Every parent wants his or her parenting efforts to be successful. While each parent’s definition of success is different, there are certain things they can do while rearing their children to achieve their goals. This is especially true for joint-custody parents, as they face unique challenges and potential roadblocks that could trigger court proceedings.

If you want to stay out of court, get along with your ex, and be the best co-parent for your child you possibly can, the following tips for successful joint custody are for you:

1. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your children

If you need to talk badly or complain about your ex, do it to your therapist. Your kids should not be within earshot of any complaints or negative talk about your ex. These complaints will be internalized by your child and — since your child is the son or daughter of your ex — he or she could lose self-confidence. Kids may also feel as if they are caught between a rock and a hard place in ongoing battles between two unhappy and opposing parents.

2. Child custody is about your kids

As much as your co-parent may have hurt you, once your divorce is finalized, you need to put those bad sentiments behind you. The more you can step out of your emotional tunnel vision, the better you can focus on the needs of your children. Learning to work proactively and diplomatically with your ex allows you both to become the best possible parents you can be.

3. Stay realistic with scheduling

Your custody order might specify that you have your children on a certain date at a specific time. However, the world doesn’t run like a Swiss-made watch. Sometimes, plans change and unforeseen events pop up. If you can stay flexible with your arrangements — within reason — you will likely get along much better with your spouse. There are limits, of course, but you will know if your spouse is being responsible or not in keeping commitments. Don’t let leftover feelings from your break-up prevent you from staying flexible while you co-parent your kids.

4. Develop a parenting plan that circumvents potential problems

Parents can co-parent successfully by developing parenting plans that circumvent future problems. A well-thought-out parenting plan will clarify what’s expected of both parents in terms of time- and cost-sharing, as well as with various agreements pertaining to how the parents rear the children.

By understanding Pennsylvania family law and common co-parenting arrangements, newly-single parents can experience more success and ease when it comes to child-rearing.