Co-Parenting

Nearly every couple going through a divorce is concerned with how their separation will affect their children. According to the Institute for Co-Parenting Resolution, the most important factor to successfully adjust children to a divorce is positive involvement from the father and mother.

This means visitation schedules must be flexible enough for both parents to encourage their children to spend time with their ex-spouse. Although both parents may not necessarily respect the other, it is important for both parties to put their own feelings aside for the sake of their children.

The following strategies will help you successfully co-parent and maintain a strong relationship with your children.

1)    Communicate with your ex-spouse for issues concerning the children. This means you must do your best to communicate in a clear manner – i.e. listen without interruption, avoid feelings of resentment toward the speaker.

2)    Respect differences in parenting styles. You likely have differing views of how to parent the children, but you benefit your children more by encouraging them to respect the other parent’s parenting style (within reason).

3)    Make an effort to accommodate the other parent when possible. If your ex-spouse has emergency, it is not productive to demand he or she take his or her visitation hours.

4)    Avoid arguing while your child is present. Your child may believe your argument was caused by something he or she did wrong.

5)    Agree to never put your child in the middle of an argument. Do not ask your child to mediate a dispute or chose sides in an argument.

Although your marriage may have ended, you will inevitably encounter conflict or disagreements with your ex-spouse about your children. By making an effort to keep the dialogue with your ex-spouse respectful, you will go a long way toward successfully co-parenting your children.

Source: Guy W. Jordan, Ph.D. and Arline S. Kerman, J.D., Ph.D., Co-Parenting, Family Law Institute Program Materials (2012).