If you’re a separated or divorced parent, I know how difficult it can be – especially when it comes to successfully, and respectfully, co-parenting with your former partner. In addition to being a Collaborative Divorce attorney, I also have personal experience as a mother of five with two separate parenting agreements. My ex and I divorced nearly 15 years ago and we experienced the ups and downs of co-parenting our two children. When I married my now husband, who has three boys, we learned to navigate and balance both parenting agreements with all of our children.
It was certainly challenging over the years, yet strangely rewarding at the same time. Keeping positive relationships with both parents is important in a healthy shared parenting relationship. As a trained co-parenting coach, here are my top three tips for a successful experience with your parenting partner:
Treat Your Relationship Like a Business
While you and your ex-partner have history, the emotions and difficulties of your marriage don’t belong in the co-parenting relationship. I work with my clients to help them create plans to establish a business-like relationship with their parenting partner. Keep the discussions strictly about your children and what’s going on in their lives. All communication in person and via phone calls, text, or emails should be kept professional and respectful no matter how hard it may be at the time. Over time, if you are fortunate enough to develop a relationship where your boundaries are honored and respected, you may be able to adjust your communication style in the future.
Know the Right Time and the Right Place
Just like there’s a right time, there’s also a wrong time. Same goes for right place versus wrong place. Don’t talk about issues with your parenting partner during your arranged pick-ups and drop-offs because those are definitely the wrong times and wrong places. As you likely know, pick-ups and drop-offs can be emotional and the last thing you probably want to deal with is feedback from your ex. Instead, if there are issues or matters that need to be discussed, schedule a time for a phone call or arrange an in-person meeting without your children present.
Take the High Road, Even When It’s Hard
It’s so difficult to be the bigger person, but for the sake of your children and their well-being, it’s worth it. There is a near guarantee that your ex will do something that makes you mad just like you’re likely to do something that makes them mad. It may or may not be intentional, but take a deep breath and think about your reaction. Try to walk away and come back to the conversation later or maybe no response is the best response. Don’t put fuel on the fire or engage in an argument. Remember, conversations should only be about your children or how something might impact them.
Co-parenting is often the hardest thing separated and divorced parents have to do; however, it can be done with patience, understanding, and respect. Your children will be grateful that their parents were able to maintain a positive parenting agreement despite their differences. If you and your parenting partner approach an issue that creates increased conflict, reach out to a co-parenting coach or child specialist. These neutral, third-party professionals are trained in helping you reach a resolution that is best for your children.
We're Here to Help
A healthy co-parenting relationship is possible with ROAD to RESOLUTION. Our Charlotte-area legal team can assist you every step of the way before, during, and after divorce. We offer various services as part of your divorce journey including pre-divorce education, separation agreements, non-adversarial divorce options, and co-parenting guidance. Give us a call at (980) 260-1600 and we can discuss your legal opportunities through Collaborative Family Law, divorce mediation, and co-parenting coaching.
Note: This article is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.