Co-parenting can be challenging even on the best of days. Trying to parent your child with a person you have chosen to divorce (and most likely do not even like anymore) can feel like the most unnatural thing to do, but it is typically the best thing the two of you can do for your child.
We have many clients who want to initiate a custody modification action because the current situation with their ex just is not working – for them or for the child. In many cases, a modification is certainly warranted and the situations which exist must be changed by a new court order in order to meet the best interests of the child, but that is not so in every case. Sometimes, it is the parents who need to change rather than the custody order or parenting plan.
If you are dealing with a difficult co-parent, these seven resolutions can help you create a more successful co-parenting relationship before pursuing litigation:
- I will focus on what is within my control, rather than trying to change my ex-spouse.
- When exchanging the children, I will not make negative “entrance” or “exit” statements. For example: “Can't you ever be on time?” or “Why do you always have to feed him take-out for dinner?”
- I will not make unreasonable or illogical demands on my ex-spouse. For example: Yelling at or sending angry messages to your ex-spouse when he/she is five minutes late for a visitation exchange.
- I will abide by the parenting plan schedule for my child, but will always remain flexible for when “life happens” or when something comes up our child may want to participate in with my ex-spouse during “my time.”
- I will respect my child's family relationship on both sides of his/her family, and never place an unhealthy priority on only my side of the family.
- I will not discuss parenting decisions or discussions about my ex-spouse while the child is present or within earshot.
- When communicating with my ex-spouse in areas where we disagree, I will list fact-based reasons for my opinions, not emotional reasons, and will not expect him/her to respond immediately. For example: “Little Johnny had three cavities at his last dental visit and the dentist has recommended we decrease the amount of sugary snacks he eats during the week.”
While these seven resolutions are not a that guarantee things will get better in a difficult co-parenting relationship, they will be useful in helping you manage your side of the relationship in a healthy way for your child.