It’s far more common today than it once was for divorced parents to share physical custody of their children. Working a shared custody plan out directly with your ex is probably going to result in a schedule that you both like a lot better than what a judge might hand you.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the process:

  1. Focus on your children. If you prioritize the kids, it’s easier to put your ego in check and make decisions without regard to your marital relationship problems.
  2. Be polite. If you think of the custody issue as a business deal, that may help you remember not to make personal attacks and concentrate on what matters.
  3. Understand the adults’ schedules. An effective parenting agreement will take into account your work schedule as well as your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s and make reasonable accommodations for both.
  4. Recognize your children’s needs. Children have different needs at different ages. A weekly switch might be fine for young children, while teens may find it disruptive and upsetting.
  5. Set ground-rules for communication. You need a reliable (and workable) way to communicate important information about the kids. Having an agreed-upon method to handle the transfer of information can eliminate a lot of problems.
  6. Don’t try to control every situation. Your children’s other parent is bound to do a few things differently, and you can’t control things like what the kids have for snacks or when they go to bed when they’re not in your home.
  7. Talk to your children. If your kids are old enough to express opinions about your parenting plan, let them be heard. You don’t have to bend to their wishes, but you should give them a chance to talk.

If you’re struggling with a custody issue during your divorce, get some experienced advice about your situation.