After the divorce is finally settled, your first instinct might be to cut all ties with your ex and move on to the next chapter in your life. If you have minor children, that is not possible. You have a lifelong connection regardless of your feelings about him or her. It is in the best interest of the children to move past the emotions and come up with a plan to successfully co-parent. Continually holding animosity towards one another creates a stressful situation for both you and your ex, but more importantly, your children.
Successful co-parenting after divorce helps the children have a feeling of stability, creates healthy relationships with both parents, lessens the chances of the children feeling abandoned by a parent, allows for a faster adjustment to the new family dynamic, less behavioral issues and many more positive influences in the children’s lives. Additionally, remember you are setting an example for your children. This is your opportunity to be a positive role model to show them how to work together in adversity.
The following tips are helpful in establishing successful co-parenting:
Keep it professional – Think of it as a business deal. We have all worked with people we do not necessarily like, but because it was business, we successfully got the job done. This is exactly how you should consider co-parenting. Keeping communication business-like lessens the chances of saying or doing things that push emotional buttons. Keep it brief and to the point.
Communication, communication, communication – These days there is really no excuse for lack of communication. If in in the beginning it is hard to see your ex face-to-face and communicating in a calm manner, communicate via texting and email. Be sure to review those texts and emails before sending to avoid a misunderstanding.
Share information about important issues and events – No one wants to be kept in the dark about important issues and events regarding their children. Remember the old saying, “Put yourself in their shoes.” You wouldn’t want to be left in the dark about these things, so why would your ex. Create a shared calendar through Outlook or Google Calendar. Utilizing a shared calendar keeps everyone on the same page. If your kids are old enough, allow them access as well. If it is your ex’s visitation, communicate about the need for a baseball mitt or dance shoes ahead of time. Add these items to the shared calendar as well. It is difficult for many parents to accept the fact they will not be there for every moment of their child’s life, the calendar will allow them to have hands-on, instant access to their children’s schedules.
Never Assume, don’t tell, discuss – Keep an open dialogue. Never assume the other parent knows or does not care to know, definitely don’t tell your ex how it is going to be without discussion. Discuss all things child-related together.
Maintain similar rules – To successfully co-parent there cannot be two sets of rules at each parent’s home. You don’t want your children playing one parent against the other. Avoid being the “easy parent.”
Stay flexible – Life happens. Inevitably, you will be late for a child exchange with the other parent and vice versa. Try to remember that and stay flexible when things don’t go exactly as planned. You both should try to the best of your ability to be on time, but when things happen like working late, being stuck in traffic and so forth, be forgiving. Also, have the kids ready for pick-ups and drop offs.
Avoid confrontation in front of the kids – Of course, co-parenting is not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but try to keep any disagreements between one another in private and away from the children. Definitely do not speak ill of the other parent in front of the kids. This destroys everything you have worked for to create a successful co-parenting environment.
Hire a parent facilitator - If you absolutely cannot work together, consider working with a parent facilitator. A facilitator is an unbiased, third party that will help you work out parenting issues together. Think of them like a referee or coach. The parent facilitator allows you to reach amicable resolutions and agreements together without going through the court process.
Kevin Hickey Law Partners will help you work through the divorce process, custody agreements and co-parenting success. Call us today.
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