For the most part, the days of primary custody going to one parent, with visitation for the other, are gone. Courts here in California and elsewhere now favor a joint custody arrangement since, in most cases, the best interests of the children require significant contact with both parents.
The problem is that the perception of joint custody that many people have involves the whole family taking vacations together and spending time together during the holidays. Are you unable to envision a time when you can co-parent side-by-side like this with your former spouse? Would this much contact not be good for everyone involved?
Another option may work better for you
Not all relationships end well. You and your former spouse may have your reasons for wanting little to no contact with each other. Yet, at the same time, you both want to be in your children's lives as much as possible. Fortunately, another option exists: Parallel parenting.
In contrast to co-parenting, in which parents make decisions together and communicate on a regular basis, they hold no ill will toward each other and raise their children together despite the divorce. You may not be "there" right now, and you may never be there. Does that mean that you must resign yourselves to one parent having primary custody with the other just getting visitation?
Fortunately, no. You can still enjoy joint custody without the contact. Consider the following possibilities:
- You and your former spouse would only communicate in person when necessary. You don't have to try to force an in-person relationship.
- All other communication could be through emails. Texts invite rapid, and perhaps, not-well-thought-out responses that could spark a confrontation. Most people consider their words more carefully in an email. They also create a paper trail should you need it.
- This arrangement reduces stress for both of you. No more cringing when you hear your phone ring.
- You no longer have to worry about your former spouse scrutinizing your life or the decisions you make, as long as they don't put your child in jeopardy, of course.
- Even though you and your former spouse may not make a good couple, you may each be able to admit that the other is a good parent. You may not be able to agree on a lot, but you may be able to agree that neither of you can interfere with how the other parents during your respective times with the children.
Does this sound good to you? This could be the answer to your custody issues. Both of you could rest easy and simply get to the business of loving and raising your children.
Preparing the necessary paperwork
You will need to be able to work together to create your parenting plan, however. Your plan can include all of the details you need in order to make your parallel parenting work. You can also include provisions regarding how to resolve any disputes that may arise regarding the children. Accounting for as many contingencies as possible could limit the number of potential issues as well. Laying everything out in writing may put each of you at ease.