A divorce involving children can be an incredibly difficult experience, especially when it comes to learning how to co-parent effectively. You will need to go through some trials and errors when figuring out what approach works best for your family. While doing so, you should keep these 4 Cardinal Rules of Co-Parenting in mind.
1. Be Respectful and Mindful
The key to any successful co-parenting relationship is to be respectful towards your ex-spouse. Purposefully disrespecting your ex by ignoring their emails and phone calls, or refusing to let them see the child, will cause unnecessary tension and may even turn an uncontested case into a contested custody battle.
Remember that your ex is just as effected by the divorce as you are, and probably even more so if they do not have residential custody of the child. Your former spouse went from living with their child, and being able to interact with them daily, to seeing them less often. This can be a tough transition for both parties, and as the custodial parent, you need to be mindful of the situation.
2. Learn to Communicate Effectively
Divorce changes a couple’s relationship, and because of this, the parties need to develop new ways to communicate and interact with each other. Learning how to co-parent can be tough, but making sure the two of you communicate well will help to ensure co-parenting runs smoothly.
While it is great if exes can remain friendly and keep arguments at bay (for the sake of their child), it is not always feasible. If you find yourself in a situation such as this, you need to look into alternative forms of co-parenting and implement new rules. For instance, any non-emergency contact can be made via text or e-mail, or phone calls can only occur between certain hours.
Technology is making it easier for feuding parties to co-parent their children during, and after, divorce. Websites and mobile apps feature shared calendars, note sections, and contact lists for other family members, education providers, and other family members. An article detailing the most popular co-parenting apps and websites can be found on Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.’s blog.
3. Create a Plan, and be Flexible
Before you can begin to co-parent with your ex, the two of you need to create a parenting plan. This can be done with or without lawyers, however, it is always recommended you retain proper representation to advocate on your behalf throughout the proceedings.
Your parenting plan will act as a guideline for how to split time on holidays, birthdays, and school breaks or vacations. The plan will provide a schedule for regular visitation, as well as detail locations and times for pick-up and drop-off. Keep a copy of your agreement handy, and refer to it if issues surrounding visitation and parenting time arise.
Having a set agreement is great, however, it is important to remember to be flexible with changes. Work or personal emergencies may come up, and your ex may be unable to participate in their regularly scheduled visitation time. While an inconvenience, you need to accept the change and be flexible. Remember, you would want the same courtesy extended to you if roles were reversed.
4. Children Come First
Children should always come first during divorce and custody disputes. These kinds of cases are major life changes, and can have a huge impact on children. Making sure your child’s emotional, mental, and physical needs are met should be in the forefront of your mind while co-parenting.
Developing a successful co-parenting relationship takes work, but it can seem less cumbersome if you and your ex both agree to make your child’s well-being the number one priority. This can be done by treating each other with respect, and refraining from putting the child in the middle of your arguments or disagreements. Both parents must support their child during this difficult transition, regardless of their personal feelings towards their former spouse. Keep in mind that a child-centered divorce is a successful one!
Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. is a New York City based matrimonial and family law firm, specializing in complex divorce and child custody matters. For more information on successful co-parenting and divorce strategies, call 718-875-7584 to schedule a free consultation.