Tips for Co-Parenting After Your Divorce
After going through the stressful and emotionally taxing divorce process, you may feel reluctant to even spend time in the same room as your ex-spouse—let alone form an amicable relationship as co-parents. But as difficult as it may be, it’s essential to put aside relationship issues if you want to provide your children with a stable, healthy, and happy upbringing.
Establishing a cooperative relationship with your spouse can help your children feel secure, while providing them with consistency, an ability to solve problems, and a healthy example to follow. Successful co-parenting is by no means easy, particularly when negative feelings are involved—we understand that. That’s why we’ve pulled from our extensive experience dealing with divorce, child custody matters, and other issues pertaining to family law to devise a list of tips for co-parenting after divorce.
Don’t let angry feelings control your actions. In the aftermath of divorce, it’s understandable that you may be feeling upset, hurt, or bitter towards your spouse. However, it’s essential to keep your negative feelings from controlling your behavior and actions around your children. Refrain from bad-mouthing your ex-spouse in the presence of your children, and never try to sabotage your kids’ relationship with your ex.
Don’t use your children as middlemen. Never use your children to obtain information about your ex-spouse, or as a pawn to get vengeance on your ex-spouse. Always be aware of their feelings when there’s a scheduling challenge, and try not to put them in a situation where they have to choose between you and your spouse.
Communicate with your spouse. This part may be difficult, uncomfortable, and even upsetting, but it’s an indispensable part of co-parenting. Communicate with your partner as calmly and professionally as possible, making an effort to listen, show restraint, and keep your conversations focused on the needs of your children. It’s okay to limit the bulk of your conversation to emails and text messages if need be, but make sure you commit to communicating regularly and often.
Work together. When you do communicate with your spouse, it’s important to approach parenting decisions as a team. Instead of arguing in favor of your own interests, work to decide on a common schedule, rules, and system of discipline that suits both your needs. Agree on how to handle situations such as holidays and special events. You should also work together to make major decisions for your children regarding medical needs, education, and finances.
Keep it consistent. While your children may be living under two separate roofs, it’s essential that the rules and expectations be the same in both households. After establishing a set of guidelines with your ex-spouse, make sure both of you stick to them. This provides your children with much needed consistency and helps avoid confusion as they move between you and your ex-spouse’s homes.
Smooth transitions. Physically moving between your ex-spouse’s home and yours can be difficult for your kids, since it pulls them in and out of two different worlds and disrupts their routine. You and your spouse should aim to make these transitions as smooth as possible by dropping off your children on time, and having a positive attitude about the change—at least outwardly. Talk to your children about the move so they know what to expect and when to expect it, and establish consistency by sticking to the schedule.
Don’t take it personally. It’s not uncommon for children to occasionally insist on staying with one parent and refuse to visit the other. Don’t take it personally. Instead, give your child the space he or she needs, and speak to your ex-spouse to try and determine the reason behind the refusal. The problem could be a simple fix—your child might just be craving more attention, more toys, or a change in your disciplinary system.
Remember your children are not adults. If you are feeling emotional, lonely, or upset, it can be tempting to vent your feelings to your children. Remember that children are not adults, and are not equipped to understand adult issues or concern themselves with situations beyond their control. You and your spouse should strive to help your children navigate the various challenges of growing up and becoming happy, healthy adults.
Work with a family attorney. As you discuss custody or time-sharing and decide on caretaking responsibilities with your spouse, it’s highly advisable to do so under the guidance of a family law attorney. A lawyer with experience in Florida family law can act as a neutral third-party mediator, helping you resolve conflict, understand your rights, and develop a plan that will ensure both parents can remain a frequent and positive presence in your children’s lives.