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Overcoming custody issues with a difficult parent

Courts have overcome misconceptions about awarding custody after divorce and are seeking to make decisions based on providing joint custody or equal access, where possible, and not basing rulings on the parent's gender. However, a resentful former spouse can complicate formulating a child custody plan.

Parents must, or the courts will, formulate a parenting plan. It is usually difficult for a parent to have sole decision-making authority and children usually are better-adjusted when both parents are involved. Plans include decisions on the child's education, such as where they will go to school, handle homework and supplies, attendance and scheduling events. Medical decisions involve scheduling routine appointments, insurance, speaking with health practitioners, elective or specialized care and dealing with appointments.

Other decisions include a schedule on when the children will live each parent. Religion issues deal with where the child worships and related education. Decisions on extra-curricular activities relate to choosing activities, ending participation, emergency contacts, scheduling and communicating with coaches and sponsors.

There are several things to keep in mind about troublesome spouses. A spouse who is resentful about the end of their marriage and plans to exclude their ex-spouse from parenting will usually discover that this approach will work against them. Next, a parent dealing with a difficult former or soon-to-be former spouse should document everything. It is important to show that their lack of communication or cooperation caused stalemates or complicated joint decision-making.

It also becomes obvious when a parent tries to manipulate plans and schedules to give them the maximum amount of time with the child or deprive the other parent of time. Easing the transition and making the custody as seamless as possible is the major goal. Parents should also respect each other's availability. Schedules can be arranged on visitation and activities so the parents can avoid opportunities for arguments.

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