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Joint Custody in the Midst of Coronavirus: Be Flexible with Your Ex

Have you ever been given the advice to walk a mile in another person’s shoes? Usually you are given this kind of advice if you are having a conflict with another person enter having trouble seeing the situation from their perspective. When it comes to interpersonal relations it is human nature to see things primarily from your own vantage point rather than from the vantage point of where the other person sits. When it comes to marriage an important skill that people sometimes have trouble developing is the ability to maintain your own perspective while at least considering the perspective of your spouse. Often times it is this problem that leads to a divorce. 

This is a shortcoming that many people have in their marriage relationships. When a divorce occurs as a result it can be that sometimes this flaw is never corrected there in the divorce and into the post-divorce life of both parties. You may be reading this and shaking your head at the thought of your ex-spouse attempting to see things from your point of view. You've probably thought a few times about how if he or she were able to do that you wouldn't be sitting here as a divorced person. Whatever your particular circumstances are it is safe to say that if you are in a situation where you need to be able to co-parent with an ex-spouse, then the ability to see the situation from their shoes would be incredibly important.

After a divorce or child custody case concludes the vast majority of families find themselves in a joint custody situation. I would like to spend a little bit of time discussing what joint custody means to Texas families. Joint custody is a term that is taken on the meaning of encompassing rights, duties, as well as Visitation and possession traits. It is sort of a one stop term for the most important functions of a divorce or child custody case when it comes to the children. 

In reality, the word custody does not appear in the Texas family code even one time. There are actually a handful of topics within the subject of custody that more accurately describes each of these issues. That will be a topic for another day as today it will be most temple to talk about custody in terms of possession and visitation.  These are probably the most contested matters in a post-divorce or post child custody case In Texas family law. I am trying to cast as wide a net as possible and believe that will catch more fish discussing these topics than any other. 

Problems can arise after a family law case concludes

It is usually a very satisfying feeling for people to complete a family law case subject matter involved in a family law case tends to be all encompassing meaning that when you go home you are confronted with the issues related to your case almost immediately. These are not business disputes that you can leave at the office and come home to a family that helps you forget about the problems. Quite the opposite, your family will only remind you of those issues that have caused you to file your divorce or child custody case in the first place. This is a unique quality of family law cases and one that can take some time to get used to. 

When a family law case comes to an end many people believe that their time in the family courts of Southeast Texas have come to a close. After all, why not think this way? You have spent a great deal of time coming up with terms and agreements on the most important issues related to your family. With so much thought, time and money having gone into this case you are confident that you have created family court orders that will hold up over the test of time. 

What ends up happening much of the time, however, is that circumstances can change as children age in the lifestyles of both parents evolves over the course of time. And these are the circumstances that bring about the need to consider filing modification or enforcement cases after an initial family court cases come to an end. Whether or not an actual case needs to be filed depends upon how well you and your ex-spouse are able to work together to resolve your issues. Even if your negotiations cannot completely end a family court case it is possible to continue to negotiate throughout the life of a case in hopes of avoiding a time consuming and costly trial before a judge. 

One way to avoid this sort of circumstance would be to make sure that the order you are creating with your spouse is one that both of you can live with for a long, long time. Many parties that I have worked with and been on the opposite side of the table from in negotiations by the end of a case become worn down and ready for the case just to be over with. These folks are understandably weary and will do pretty much anything to conclude their case and to call it a day. Human beings only have so much in the way of patience and forwarded to when it comes to legal matters. A drawn-out divorce or child custody case can sap a persons mental, physical and emotional energy unlike just about any other process that you will go through in your life. 

However, the end result of a case like this is one where either neither party is satisfied with the court order or one party determines after a while that the other side got the better end of the deal because he or she was impatient and could not bear for the case to last longer than it already had. Throwing up your hands and waving the white flag allows your opposing party to gain a Supreme advantage in negotiation. Where the rubber hits the road, this means that he or she will have a setup that functions much better for him or her than it does for you. If the slightest thing changes in your life it could be that that court order completely no longer works for you. In that case you can attempt to negotiate with your ex-spouse for an informal adjustment to your core orders but ultimately a formal modification may be needed. 

These are the sort of issues that confront joint custodians of children. If you are all able to work together and extend grace and patience it either person you can better avoid situations like we have just described. I think this is especially important during the age of coronavirus when people are less able to with stand significant changes before their patience is truly tested. Let's spend some time discussing how flexibility in a co-parenting relationship can help avoid future family court conflicts.

Be flexible, and flexibility shall be extended towards you 

We've all heard the old saying do unto others as others would do unto you. This is also referred to as the Golden rule. The way you want to be treated is how you should treat others and vice versa. I find that even if another person acts and negatively towards you if you do not return the favor and act negatively back then that person's negative energy has nowhere to transfer to. It dies in the air and here she has to try a new approach in order to relate to you. However, if you return negativity with negativity that only creates a greater amount of negativity in the air and intensifies the situation. 

I have never been in a situation with clients where a person's flexibility was met negatively by the other parent. On the contrary, you can surprise people in a good way when you are flexible especially when it comes to matters related to your children. I think it is almost reflexive for parents involved in a post-divorce world to assume that their ex-spouse is not going to work with them when it comes to agreements outside of their parenting plan. It is assumed that he or she will have to go to war with the other parent in order to get what he or she wants. 

in actuality, this could not be farther from the truth. What many people miss in this situation Is that when parents communicate openly and honestly with their Co parent it is amazing how they can get things done that they would have assumed to be impossible. For example, suppose that you wanted to trade weekends with your ex-spouse in order so that you could take your child to a family reunion or other family get-together. When he saw that the family weekend fell on a weekend that belong to your ex-spouse your initial thought may have been that it looked like your kids would have to miss fun with your family. 

However, if you give your ex-spouse as much advance warning as possible and are flexible when it comes to trading future weekends with him or her you may find that he or she is much more willing to work with you. On the other hand, if you wait until the last minute to tell your ex-spouse about the family get together and then are very particular about which weekend you are willing to trade with him or her I find that parents are not as successful in these situations at arriving at an equitable solution. in other words, it is easier to catch a fly with honey than with vinegar.

Do not assume the worst of your ex-spouse in custody situations 

it is easy to make assumptions about the motives and behavior of your ex-spouse. You may have become acclimated to this point towards assuming the worst of his or her actions. While this is a defense mechanism that may have developed over the course of weeks and months in your personal life it can work against you when you and your ex-spouse or trying to co-parent after a divorce or child custody case. Immediately assuming the worst in your ex-spouse can do many type of negotiation and basically makes both of you extremely inflexible when it comes to working around and disagreement or working towards a resolution to a custody problem. 

If you and your ex-spouse are able to negotiate a flexible solution to a problem that arises in the area of custody it is critically important that both of you act with honesty and candor moving forward when it comes to your agreement. If you make an agreement with your ex-spouse to resolve a problem or to make a minor modification on a temporary basis then it is important for both of you to stick to your word 100%. If some alteration needs to be made along the way, then I would recommend you discuss that directly with your ex-spouse before moving forward. Even if you make changes to a previously agreed upon visitation or possession structure that are minor in nature you should consult with your ex-spouse directly. He or she will appreciate your working with him or her directly rather than just making changes on your own. The trust and goodwill that you build up in this regard can help you sort through future challenges and help you avoid having to go to court to have these challenges resolved by a judge. 

Questions about post-divorce life in a coronavirus world? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. Consultations with our experience family law attorneys are available in person, over the phone and via videoconference. We thank you for choosing to join us today here on our blog and we hope that you will return tomorrow as we continue to post helpful information regarding Texas family law. 


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