How to co-parent with a former spouse

In the aftermath of a divorce, it is important for parents to make sure that they keep a focus on the happiness and wellbeing of their children despite the fact that their family structure has changed. Even when parents are no longer married, they still have the critical role of co-parenting their children. With one in every two children experiencing the divorce of a parent before the age of 18, these issues affect millions of families. The following are some guidelines that can help a person navigate the challenging waters of co-parenting after a divorce.

Make a co-parenting plan

The best way to avoid miscommunications and conflict is to make a plan that both parents agree on ahead of time. The more a parent can plan for what responsibilities each parent will have, the lower the chance of arguments and misunderstandings over child custody and other issues. These responsibilities may include:

  • Setting up planned check-ins with your former spouse to touch base and discuss what is going on with your child
  • Making sure that both parents are aware of visitation times, transfer times, and the division of responsibilities like transportation to school and sports activities
  • Avoiding asking the child to be the messenger between parents
  • Avoiding situations that make the child feel like they need to side with one parent or the other

Parents have the responsibility to communicate clearly with each other. Parents can benefit from avoiding the urge to attempt to control everything their former spouse does. The child may be able to benefit from more than one parenting style, and it respecting the ex-spouses boundaries can make the co-parenting relationship stronger.

Maintain your child's family relationships

Just because a parent and co-parent are no longer married does not mean that the children shouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy a positive relationship with both of their parents. As long as the safety of the child isn't being threatened, it is best to respect a former spouse's decisions and avoid bad-mouthing them in the presence of the children. It may also help to give the child permission and encouragement to love and be loved by both of their parents despite the divorce.

When parents cooperate in co-parenting, the result is a more gratifying custody arrangement for everyone. Co-parenting may provide a more stable and supporting family structure due to the unified interest in the child.

The role of a family law attorney

In many divorce and separations, parents and separated couples will find that legal help is essential. A family law attorney can help with the legal aspects of divorce, including child custody, parenting time, property division and maintenance. Having legal counsel can give the parent time to focus on other family responsibilities, like parenting, and work towards a satisfactory resolution for the entire family.