At A People’s Choice, we have helped thousands of parents resolve co-parenting issues. Co-Parenting children after divorce when you don’t agree does not need to be as hard as some parents make it. Below is an overview on tips parents should follow when co-parenting after divorce that will help to set up a shared custody plan that works. Contact us for more information about creating a co-parenting agreement that works for you.
Helpful Tips When Co-Parenting Children After Divorce
Focus on Your Children’s Well Being
Don’t be the center of attention and focus on your child’s needs. When faced with co-parenting children after divorce, you must accept that a child custody arrangement may not result in you getting exactly what you want. Spending time with your children should not be a battle. Both parents should work together to make sure their children are spending quality time with each other.
Be Realistic About Existing Commitments
Do not commit to schedules with the other parent that you know you cannot keep. This will create even more turmoil in the co-parenting relationship. If you are co-parenting children after divorce, it is important to discuss your schedule and children’s activities with the other parent. This allows you to develop a flexible plan which allows both parents to spend time with the kids. Keep in mind that your commitments will change over time. This means your co-parenting schedule may change as well.
Keep Your Custody Arrangement Flexible
No custody arrangement is perfect, particularly when you are co-parenting children after divorce when you don’t agree. It is common for visitation schedules to change yearly. Check in with the other parent quarterly to see if the existing schedule is working for the children. Make changes as to your custody arrangement needed.
Curb Loneliness With Activity
When the children are away, try to fill the hours or days with activities that bring you joy. Visit friends, explore hobbies that make you happy, exercise and rest up. You will find that you will start to enjoy having this extra gift of time to yourself.
What Not to Do When Co-Parenting Children After Divorce
Quality vs. Quantity
Having a close and meaninful relationship with your child is not just based on the number of hours you spend with that child. For this reason, don’t get hung up on demanding a perfectly even 50/50 split schedule between both parents. Instead, it’s better to create a schedule that makes the most sense for everyone, based on each parents work schedule, availability, the children’s extracurricular activities and other factors.
Do Not Insult the Other Parent
Never speak poorly about the other parent in your children’s presence. Doing so creates a negative impact on your child. Your child still loves his/her parent and may internalize your negative comments. Criticizing your ex in front of your children will only make co-parenting more difficult than it needs to be.
Don’t Put Guilt on the Children for Being Lonely
There will be periods of time when the children are with the other parent and this time apart can be painful and make you sad. When the children are with the other parent, don’t interfere because you miss them. It is important for each parent to be able to spend their own time with the children without the other parent getting in the way.
Don’t Lose Your Temper
If the other parent does something that makes you angry or upset, don’t call or start texting or emailing out of the blue. Set time aside to discuss disputed issues and concerns with the other parent when both of you are calm and can talk about the issues outside of the heat of battle. Perhaps make a list of matters you want to discuss at a later time. You may discover that when the times comes to talk about them with the other parent, they aren’t as important as you thought.
Don’t Fight in Front of the Children
Putting children in the middle of heated exchanges with the other parent is a big mistake. Parents should save disputes for later discussion in private; or through private telephone calls, texting or email.
Don’t Interrogate Your Children When They Have Been Away
It is quite natural for a parent to be interested in what the kids have done when they are away. Sometimes a parent might have legitimate concerns about things that occur at the other parent’s house. Regardless of your concerns, a parent should not question their children for information. This badgering puts children in the middle, and may make them feel if they speak, they are betraying their mother or father by sharing information. Obviously a parent can ask their child how their weekend was or how their game went. These types of questions show interest but will not put your child on the defensive. Be supportive, but not intrusive.
Written Parenting Agreements Result in Successful Co-Parenting Children After Divorce
As with most things in life, it is always best to have understandings in writing. A written co-parenting agreement allows the couples to discuss their mutual interests, desires, and goals as co-parents in a meaningful and practical way. Parts of a co-parenting agreement may include:
- a statement of intentions for the co-parents on their legal rights and financial obligations to the child as well as mutual goals.
- identifying and allocating parental rights and responsibilities such as sharing time, residence area, vacation, birthdays and shared holidays. Responsibilities would cover the decision-making authority of each parent, the sharing of expenses, tax deductions and reimbursements due to the other parent.
- addressing issues of religion, education, use of discipline, pets and even diet and nutrition.
- a guardianship or other contingency plan that identifies how the co-parents will handle the death or complete incapacitation of one of the co-parents.
- scheduling ongoing co-parent reviews to discuss parenting issues and any changes that may need to be made to the agreement.
- addressing how you will resolve disputes and what means the parents will use to try to work through them. This could include counseling, mediation, or even arbitration.
Getting Help With Your Parenting Plan
We hope the above tips give you some insight as to considerations for successful co-parenting children after divorce when you don’t agree. At A People’s Choice, we can help you develop a co-parenting plan without the added stress of the court. Contact us today to learn more about working with our legal document preparers. Having been in business since 1980, we have helped thousands of families successfully create a plan to co-parent their children after divorce, even when they thought they could not agree.
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