Parenting After Divorce
Whether your divorce is amicable or bitter, if you have a child, it’s important to keep their well-being a priority. One way to do that is by creating a co-parenting plan with your ex that will make the divorce easier on your child. Judges have the authority to make parenting decisions such as custody and visitation, but you and your ex are better suited to create a plan that is in your child’s best interest. As a side note, if your relationship was abusive, the judge has a duty to ensure that the custody plan protects your child from danger. Read on to learn important tips that will help you better handle issues surrounding divorce and co-parenting and the benefits of creating a co-parenting plan for your child.
Divorce and Co-Parenting – The Importance of A Co-Parenting Plan
Why is a co-parenting plan important? One word: stability. Children need stability and consistency in their lives, particular during a stressful divorce. Though your marriage has ended, you will need to form a new partnership with your ex that demonstrates to your child that they are secure and loved. Providing them with an example of how two people working together despite their differences, is a lesson they will carry with them always. Remind your child that despite the feelings you and your ex have toward each other, they are loved and in no way responsible for the divorce.
Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents
Divorce often results in feelings of anger and hurt. You’re going to have to put all of those feelings aside in order to effectively co-parent. Here is a list of things NOT to do:
- Do not use your child to spy on your ex
- Do not bad-mouth your ex (or their new partner) in front of your child
- Do not use your child as a pawn to get back at your ex
- Do not use your child to carry messages back to your ex
- Do not force your child to take sides
- Do not undermine or criticize how your ex is parenting in front of your child
If you stoop to bad-mouthing and forcing sides, your child will grow resentful. Children are not equipped to deal with adult problems, so keep them from being in the middle of any issues you have with your ex.
Creating a Co-Parenting Plan
When writing up your plan, the primary goal is to create conflict-free communication. Here are some points to keep in mind when you and your ex sit down to put the plan together.
- Set aside your differences
- Use a business-like tone when speaking with your ex
- Make requests rather than statements that can be misinterpreted as demands
- Show restraint
- Communicate frequently
- Aim for consistency in discipline, rules and schedules
- Be clear on medical needs, education and financial issues
- Respect your ex in front of your child
- Be flexible
- Encourage your child’s relationship with your ex
- Respect the visitation schedule
The Co-Parenting Agreement
It is helpful to have your co-parenting plan defined in a formal co-parenting agreement. The agreement can specifically identify the parties intentions, rights and responsibilities, how decisions will be made and how conflicts will be resolved. A great sample template that provides an overview of issues can be found here. Finally, remember that the plan is not written in stone. Continued open communication with your ex will provide opportunities to change the plan as needed. All of this is not to say that working together with your ex-spouse will be easy, but by keeping your love for your child at the center of your efforts, you will be creating the nurturing and stable environment they need.
Contact A People’s Choice for help in preparing your child custody legal documents. We can prepare your co-parenting agreement and help you define your co-parenting plan. We can also prepare and file any other necessary child custody legal paperwork you may need to file with the court. Call 1-800-747-2780 to get started.