Co-parenting Tips for Divorced Parents with Joint Custody
There’s no denying that the divorce experience can be difficult for everyone involved. Even in the best-case scenario outcome that is a joint custody agreement, there can be hurdles to overcome. Nevertheless, as parents it is vital to make sure your children settle into a routine after your separation as soon as possible.
Consistency without continued confusion is vital while making certain every child feels loved and supported by both of you. This means taking steps to ensure your co-parenting approach is a caring and stable collaboration.
This certainly isn’t always going to be an easy task. So, let’s take a look at a handful of tips you can use to positively influence your co-parenting after a divorce.
Divorce is an emotionally-charged situation. There can be resentments and disagreements on both sides after the formal process is complete. However, it’s important to make sure this doesn’t spill over into your co-parenting. As such, you both need to commit to actively addressing elements of conflict as they arise, rather than allowing them to fester and exacerbate the situation.
Learn how to talk about conflict. Avoid using language associated with blame when there is some aspect of behavior or parenting that you disagree with. Wherever possible, talk about conflicts in-person, as text messaging and phone calls can be easily misconstrued. Choose a neutral venue and calmly discuss the source of any issues.
Most importantly, collaborate on a route forward. Compromise is not always easy to achieve, but it needs to be a feature of your co-parenting approach. You won’t always be able to agree on all issues, but you need to be open to finding common ground as co-parents to ensure the well being and protection of your children between both of your homes.
Let’s face it, there will be times that you simply don’t want to talk to your ex after your divorce. While this is understandable, it also doesn’t make for a positive co-parenting experience. When there is any kind of communication breakdown, this leaves room for misunderstandings, mistakes, and resentment to breed. It is also likely to result in your children receiving inconsistent messages from their parents.
As such, you both need to commit to keeping in regular communication with each other, even if this is limited to parenting elements. You can also find your relationship in general will be more pleasant if you maintain regular contact. Some people even find this easier to achieve without the emotional baggage of an unhappy marriage.
Maintain Your Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is a legally binding document that sets out the requirements for your childrens’ care following a divorce. If you and your ex’s attorneys have been ethical, it will have been shaped to ensure you and your children benefit from a fair division of parental responsibility and time sharing. As such, it is one of the most important agreements to form part of your divorce finalization. Both you and your ex need to ensure you stick to the terms of your parenting plan.
If your former spouse breaches the plan, taking the matter to court isn’t always the best immediate response. Talk reasonably with your ex about the matter and refer them to the terms of the agreement. Don’t respond with a tit-for-tat breach of the plan yourself. Make a note of the circumstances, though. If the problem persists, provide the details to your attorney and seek their advice on how to proceed.
Support the Blend
After the divorce, you and your ex will naturally want to move on with your lives. This could involve you both becoming involved in new relationships. Over time, other children could be brought into the equation, resulting in blended family situations. This isn’t unusual; around 50% of families in the U.S. are remarried or recoupled. But it can certainly be difficult, especially given that your children will have new step-parents in their lives.
Always aim to be civil when interacting with your ex’s partner. You don’t have to be best friends, but your kids will take notice of your relationship with one another and issues here can make them feel uncomfortable. Work together to cultivate respect between your families, including stepparents as they offer stability to each child. Recognize the difficulties and commit to a collaboration that provides the best experience for one another and your children.
Joint custody is often the best outcome for you, your former spouse, and your children. That doesn’t mean to say it’s always smooth sailing. It’s important for you and your ex to make efforts to address conflicts as they arise and keep communicating with one another. Remember that your parenting plan is designed to prioritize your childrens’ welfare, so you must maintain it. If a blended family situation arises, work to ensure everyone is respected and supported. It takes some effort and coordination, but a successful co-parenting experience is vital to your and your childrens’ well-being.