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How do differing parenting styles affect custody arrangements?

A lot of child custody experts will tell you that the trick to effective co-parenting is to keep lines of communication open with your ex-spouse and to remain unified on decisions concerning your children's wellbeing. The moment lines of communication break down or parents start to disagree about how to raise the children, joint custody arrangements can start to flounder.

Research out of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice seems to validate this assumption by pointing out a number of breakdowns in communication between parents that can affect child custody arrangements. Of those factors, differing parenting styles and values is listed as a contributing factor.

Joint custody doesn't mean everything is happy

While joint custody arrangements have proven to be the more effective arrangement in states throughout the nation, a near 50/50 split of time with each parent does not guarantee that issues will not arise.

Because they are not in the same household, the September 2013 Berkeley Journal study points out, parents may not maintain the same level of communication regarding childrearing decisions as they did when they were together. As such, parents often start developing their own parenting styles that may differ from their former spouse.

As you can imagine, the less parents agree on how the children should be raised, the more conflicts can arise. This can escalate even further, causing some parents to have doubts about whether or not the current joint custody arrangement is appropriate.

The importance of a clear legal custody arrangement

In Tennessee, much like in other states, there are two parts to any custody arrangement: legal and physical custody. While physical custody refers to where the child will live and with whom, legal custody refers to the parenting decisions made on behalf of the children. This can include everything from where the children will go to school, what religion they will practice and appropriate after-school activities, just to name a few.

If the split of legal custody is not clearly defined in an arrangement, separated or divorced parents may not be able to recognize when they are overstepping their bounds or realize how their decisions are conflicting with those being made by the other parent.

Even if parents in Tennessee begin to have doubts about their custody arrangement because of differing parenting styles, it's important to know that this is not a valid enough reason to seek modification of a custody order in our state.

Petitioners seeking modification of a court order need to show there is a substantial change in circumstances. Unfortunately, disagreement about how to raise the children might not fit this definition.

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