19 Parents On How They Handled Their Custody Battles Like A Boss

Let’s face it: splitting up is never easy. And if couples are splitting up with small children involved, it makes things all the more complicated. They want to make everything as civil as possible, for the sake of the children, regardless if they are young or not. After all, divorce is mentally and physically challenging, frustrating, stressful, sad, and lonely for everyone involved. Your life as you knew it, is about to change forever.

With that being said though, it doesn’t mean that your divorce or your custody agreement with your former significant other has to be a long, drawn-out battle. In fact, many former couples have proven that yes, you can be best friends with your ex and make the transition from married life to single life without the drama. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy. But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be an ugly mess either. After all, our kids are watching. The best thing we can do is model what a healthy breakup looks like, without the kitchen knives, pitchforks and daggers.

That’s why we’ve got 19 stories of ex-couples below and how they managed to make their custody agreements work.

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19 Sunday Night Dinner

This ex-couple decided that it would be in their child’s best interest if they could maintain some sense of normalcy, even after their divorce. That’s why, no matter where they are or what they might be doing, they’ve decided to always have Sunday night dinner together as a family. They even rotate from one house to the other. “The funny thing is, we rarely had dinner as a family while we were still married,” says Kayce, “But now that we are divorced, we are actually acting the way a family is supposed to act. My ex even started cooking on his own, too.”

18 Together, But Separate

Via YouTube

In all honesty, a lot of couples find that they get along much better after their divorce than while they were still married. Now, as we all know every situation is different, but for some ex-couples, they communicate better when there’s less stress about household bills, expectations, and just constantly breathing down each other’s backs. Father-of-three Alex puts it this way, “I still love my ex-wife, but after we divorced, it did feel like I was finally alive again. It’s sad to say, but marriage isn’t for everyone. We weren’t happy. But now that we’ve found peace, we are actually better parents.”

17 No Drama Involved

Via Beliefnet.com

One of the reasons why this couple split up was because of mother-in-law drama on both sides. Yes, people do get divorced because of their in-laws. But because they have three small children, parents Vinny and Liz decided it would be best to take the in-laws out of the picture (temporarily) while working out a new way to raise their kids together. “Sometimes you have to make certain sacrifices,” Vinny explains. “Knowing that all of the meddling was a huge problem, we made some new house rules. If we were together with the kids, the in-laws needed to keep their distance. Our main focus was our three small children, and no one else.”

16 The Nighttime Routine

This couple reveals that they put their child to bed together every night, despite the fact that they live in two separate homes. It’s challenging at times, but the dad wants to be there for every last kiss and cuddle before bedtime. Mom Patricia says, “At first I thought this was a bad idea. But I had to put our son’s needs over my own. Sure, it was sometimes awkward between us, but the more he came over, the more comfortable and normal it was turning out to be. It didn’t take long for me to realize that he truly wanted the two of us there to say goodnight to him every evening.”

15 Mom And Dad At Every Game

This couple has made a huge effort to attend each and every one of their son’s baseball games, before and after signing their divorce papers. They might not be a team anymore in a marriage sense, but they wanted to prove to their son that they are still a team as a family. Father-of-two Ed says, “I’m actually still the head coach of my son’s baseball team and my ex-wife is the team mom. We may no longer be partners at home, but when it comes to our son’s baseball games, we show up, work together, and act as a solid unit.”

14 Don’t Talk About The Past

For this couple, they want to let bygones be bygones, no matter how difficult or painful it still feels. Digging up things that happened yesterday, or even 5 or 10 years ago was what made their marriage unbearable at times. Divorced dad of two Jack says, “We made a promise to each other to not talk about the past, and especially in front of the kids. Plus, it didn’t matter anymore. We had new lives now and a new future ahead of us. Rehashing all of the painful memories, and blaming each other for them, was hurting us more than helping.”

13 A Shared Account

A lot of married couples have different ways of organizing their finances. Some people do it together, others delegate finances to their partner. But this couple decided to keep a shared account that would be strictly used to help fund their daughter’s basic needs, extracurricular activities and so on. “She does gymnastics and tumbling and is on the cheer squad,” says Iova. “Everything is quite pricey, so we decided to open up a shared account that we both contribute to. As long as we both put in equal funds, then there’s no accusing, arguing or carrying any grudges around.”

12 Every Other Weekend

Via Mulpix

For a lot of couples, that first weekend you spend without your children (because they are with your ex-partner instead) is the hardest. In most cases, a judge decides on the terms of the custody agreement between two people. But for this ex-partner, they decided to work out the details themselves. Sharon says, “We alternate and have the kids every other weekend. It works out because we have split custody. But whenever the kids see their dad, I can’t help but feel this huge hole in my heart. It sucks. I miss them terribly each time they are not with me.”

11 Ex-Couples’ Counseling

For a lot of couples, they believe that counseling might be the only way that they can save their marriage or relationship. But believe it or not, a lot of people might need counseling even after they’ve separated, just so they can maintain a healthy post-marriage relationship. Sarah says, “Everything came out of the woodwork after our separation. In our heads, we knew it was over, but at least the counselor laid out all of our issues and gave us steps on how we can work better as friends and co-parents. We are much happier now than when we were married.”

10 In-Home Custody Evaluation

According to experts, if you want to have the equal time that you deserve with your kids, consider an in-home custody evaluation. This is when a professional comes to your home to asses your living conditions. Basically, they see if your place is a safe and sound home, if you have enough food in the refrigerator, and if your kids have a place that they can call their own inside your house. This might help present your case and put you in a better light, too, especially if your ex might be saying negative things about you behind your back. According to Very Well Family, “This can be extremely helpful, especially if you're concerned that your ex will try to present a negative impression of your home life.”

9 Never Reschedule Your Time

If there is one thing that you never want to do, it's reschedule your time with your kids. This is a huge no-no in the co-parenting world. If you want to be a committed mother or father, make your children your first priority in your world. Always be there, and always be on time, especially when it's your turn to have the kids. Very Well Family writes, “Repeatedly rescheduling your parenting time could make it appear to the court that you're just filing for custody out of spite -- not because you really want custody. So make sure you're there when you say you will be so that your ex can't present a documented pattern to the court that reflects negatively on you.”

8 Maintain A Routine

Via Cosmopolitan

As many parents, health professionals and child educators will tell you, kids thrive when they have a set routine in their lives. They crave stability and don’t do very well when there are too many changes that occur in their lives. That’s why it’s important to always maintain a routine, even after your divorce has been finalized. Make their lives as normal as it once was before. Very Well Family says, “If you've been granted visitation rights with your kids, take advantage of it. Spend as much time with them as you can, and make sure that you're doing regular, everyday things—including homework and chores.”

7 Use Intervention If Needed

Via TV.com

If you have an ex-partner who is making life very difficult for you by keeping the kids away, then use intervention if needed. According to The Australian, one attorney said, “I once acted for mum in a case where there had been no contact between the child and the dad for three years, and the mum was quite rigid in her thinking, and the outcome was no surprise to me. The judge changed their residence. The children went to live with the dad and it was all very traumatic, but the dad very quickly agreed to alternate weekends and eventually they were doing equal time, so it did work.”

6 Vacation Together

A lot of divorced couples end up vacationing with one another and their children and in some cases, even bring their new partners along. Now, keep in mind that this only works if everyone gets along and acts like civilized adults throughout the trip. Mom Valerie says, “Because of our complicated work schedules we don’t get to spend a lot of time with each other as a family at home. That’s why we set some time aside every year to vacation together as a family, even though we’ve been divorced for years. Some years we go to Disney while other years we take a cruise or spend some time in the mountains, hiking and biking.”

5 Or Spend Holidays Together

Via Marie Claire

Another way to help keep some sense of stability and normalcy is by spending holidays and birthday with each other. Dad Jack says again, “At first we rotated holidays, with our kids spending one holiday with me, and one with my ex and her family. But that didn’t always work out. So that’s why we decided to skip all of the family get together and just focus on being partners and family members for our kids. We realized quickly that the kids are much happier when they just have mom and dad to themselves. Everyone else was just unnecessary background noise.”

4 New Partners

Via Pinterest

If you plan on introducing new partners, consider your child’s feelings first, especially if the trauma from your divorce is still too fresh for them. Keep in mind that this is a very delicate matter. According to the Divorce Club, one person said, “I spoke to a child psychologist who had a load of toy animals and she asked me to pick an animal to go with all the members of my family. I was 9 so I didn’t really put much thought into it. The dolphin was my mum, the dad was a bear, and I had to choose other animals. So because I chose a lion for the stepdad, they thought he must be a piece of work. So after that I got more time with my dad.”

3 Kids Get To Choose

Via Let The Kids Dress Themselves

Oftentimes, many ex-partners find that the best way to handle their custody case is if they leave the decision up to their child. After all, it’s his or her happiness that matters more than theirs, especially since children grieve the loss of their family the most. One person wrote on The Divorce Club, “They kept fighting over us but then I got to 13 and I could choose where I went. I chose to do half-half again. And then getting to high school and I got into teenage mode and said to my mum I was at my dad’s and vice versa and never came home.”

2 A Silver Lining

Via My Wifestyles

Despite all of the heartache, the drama, and the tears, there is a silver lining in some custody cases. At least, according to one child of a divorced couple who had seen and heard it all. Thankfully, he can now have a sense of humor about it. Another person said on The Divorce Club, “The good thing about it all is that when you go through a lot of crap you come out thinking that’s hilarious, because it’s so disjointed. I can get chucked anything now, and I start laughing. A lot of comedians who do stand up have been to hell and back.”

1 Advice From Those Who Have Survived It

One of the best things you can do is perhaps seek the advice from those who have actually survived horrible separations or divorces. After all, they are the ones who have survived the storms and have lived on to see better days. One woman wrote on The Divorce Club, “Act normally, talk to each other normally and don’t throw all this hatred through your children. I’ve heard so many versions of all the stories that don’t join up I don’t know what happened. I can’t fathom a world where they actually loved each other. It doesn’t make sense to me. And it’s put me off going there myself.”

References: thedivorceclub.com, theaustralian.com, verywellfamily.com

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