Family courts want children to have a relationship with both parents. Even if one parent has primary physical custody, both parents may share legal custody, which is the right to make decisions for the child. Although working together to raise your child might seem far away when you are going through a divorce, it is possible to learn new methods to communicate and problem solve.
If you and the child's other parent are committed to the best interests of the child, here are some tips to help you co-parent:
- Commit to communicating with the other parent about schedules, school and important things in the child's life. If you are not ready to directly talk to the other person, use email or an app designed for divorced families. Never use the child to carry messages.
- Negotiate consistent rules for each household, such as homework has to be done before playtime or bedtime is at a certain time. This is not to micromanage each parent but to create stability in the child's life.
- Make a plan to work out issues that will arise. Have a third party that can assist with major decisions when there is conflict.
- Commit to positive talk in front of the kids. Do not disrespect the other parent.
- Recognize that it may be difficult to co-parent, especially in the beginning.
- Recognize that the other parent has strengths as a parent and that your child needs a relationship with that parent.
Co-parenting is not for families where there was abuse or domestic violence, but it can work in many child custody situations, no matter how emotionally charged the divorce is. Children who watch their parents co-parent have good role models for problem-solving and conflict resolution. If you need help creating a co-parenting plan, you might want to speak to an experienced attorney who can walk you through the important issues that will need working out.