It may not have been easy, but you successfully transitioned from married (or living together) with kids to divorced (or separating) and co-parenting with your ex. But you still have to raise the children together. You should connect with your family law or matrimonial attorney to set up a time to discuss your future plans.
Co-parenting still occurs even when divorced or separated parents who no longer live together work to raise their children together. It is beneficial when both parents can successfully play roles in their kids’ everyday lives. But even with the best-laid plans, we sometimes encounter occasional bumps in the road.
Whether parents simply disagree over certain rules, bedtimes, school projects, extracurricular activities, computer/device time, gifts or trips, it often helps to talk to a neutral professional in order to get their joint parenting back on track.
To do this, a variety of resources are available, including psychologists, therapists, social workers and counselors who have the skills to help parents communicate and navigate their co-parenting challenges. An impartial third party can be invaluable in diffusing arguments or miscommunication and help to ensure that co-parents understand—and stick to—their agreed-upon co-parenting plan. They can also help prevent small problems from escalating to big ones and landing the parties in Court.
“The key to successful co-parenting is to separate the personal relationship with your ex from the co-parenting relationship. It may be helpful to start thinking of your relationship with your ex as a completely new one—one that is entirely about the well-being of your children, and not about either of you,” according to a HelpGuide article by Jocelyn Block, M.A. and Melinda Smith, M.A. “Your marriage may be over, but your family is not; acting in your kids’ best interest is your most important priority. The first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs ahead of your own.”
Studies have indicated that there are benefits for children whose parents decide to cooperatively co-parent them. “[C]hildren in shared physical custody families—with the exception of situations where children need protection from an abusive or negligent parent—have better outcomes across a variety of measures of well-being than do children in sole physical custody,” said Linda Nielsen of the Institute for Family Studies. “Knowledge and understanding of these findings allow us to dismantle some of the myths surrounding shared parenting so we can better serve the interests of the millions of children whose parents are no longer living together.”
For parents facing difficulties co-parenting, it is important to remember that it isn’t about your relationship with your ex. It’s about putting the needs of your children first and foremost and setting any differences aside. A family and matrimonial law attorney can help parents craft custody agreements with solid co-parenting terms as well as help them work with skilled professionals to assist in developing co-parenting skills.