A client recently expressed her frustration over co-parenting with her ex-spouse. Managing summers, choosing extra-curricular activities and figuring out the best food to feed your children are just a few issues that can become an uphill battle for many parents in a divorce. For the lucky ones, co-parenting may come easily especially if the divorce is simple and seamless and there is a foundation of friendship that still remains between each spouse. However, for others, co-parenting can be a nightmare and a very difficult task that causes undue stress and complication disrupting a peaceful existence. Built-up resentment, lack of communication and differing parenting styles and values may all be hindrances towards effective co-parenting.
However, it is not an impossible mountain to climb and there are many parents who are able to learn how to co-parent during and after a divorce. Here are some helpful tips on how to get on the path towards healthy co-parenting when you are going through the difficult process of separation and divorce:
1. Communicate Regularly: Effective co-parents communicate regularly. When two spouses refuse to talk to each other, except through their attorneys it does not bode well for open communication to solve problems going forward. If you have trouble communicating face to face, there are other ways to talk including text messages and emails. This also allows you to keep a record of your communication in the event there is issue over what was or was not said. Another helpful tip I provide to clients is to try and see things from your ex-spouse's perspective so you can understand where he or she is coming from when they are trying to communicate with you. In any healthy relationship, even friendship, you may want to choose your battles carefully and learn to be okay with letting certain things go.
2. Seek Assistance From Professionals: It may also be a good idea to seek help from professionals. There are so many resources available for individuals going through divorce. Family counseling and individual counseling may be a good option to work through the difficulties of divorce and what it will mean for you and your children, especially since divorce affects children in each unique stage of their lives. The website Our Family Wizard is also a very helpful tool that helps parents by keeping record of communications, schedules, appointments and even allows you to upload documents to one shared site. If a third -party professional is appointed by the courts, they can also have limited access to your family wizard account when needed. Another option may also be to enroll in a co-parenting class which can be found in your area or even online. There are many co-parenting classes available that are helpful in teaching you and your spouse how to co-parent.
3. Avoid Court Litigation: One of the key ways to stay on track to a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse is to avoid court litigation if possible. Now of course sometimes court litigation is needed and this is the only way to resolve some disputed issues. However, if possible, look at other creative alternatives on resolving issues without the need for court intervention. If you are filing a motion every time there is an issue with your ex-spouse, it escalates the resentment and bitterness between you and your ex-spouse and does not create a healthy foundation for friendship and co-parenting going forward. Not to mention that you will be digging a deeper financial hole if all your hard earned monies are being spent on attorney and court fees.
Overall, it's important to look at the big picture in your divorce and focus on what is in the best interests of your children. When you get along as co-parents, your children will likely be happier given the difficult circumstances that they are already facing with the divorce.