7 Tips for Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce

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coparenting after divorceDivorce can be one of the most stressful events you’ll ever experience. There are practical matters such as dividing property and moving, as well as the emotional issues such as mourning the dream of a happy marriage and wondering if you’ll ever find love again. For your children, however, divorce has its own challenges. Their world seems to be falling apart, and nothing will ever be the same for them. Your marriage may be crumbling, but your children need you and your former spouse to hold their world together. Keep the following in mind as your plan for the next steps in co-parenting your children. 

7 Tips for Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce

1. Make a plan. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This especially applies to parents going through a divorce. Form a parenting plan with short term rules, long term goals, and general guidelines. Some of this may have to change as you settle into your new individual routines, but a plan that you create at your leisure is better than one you may be obliged to create to a deadline that a court sets. A divorcing couple with an agreed upon parenting plan saves judges time for other issues that may be under contention, and both parties look more mature.

2. Have a routine. Structure and consistency will provide ease and comfort for everyone involved. Having a routine, especially for younger children, will help them in a time when many other issues will be up in the air. Keeping rules consistent, ideally between both households, will serve children and teens. If you cannot agree on rules, at least keep your own rules consistently while neutrally acknowledging that your co-parent prefers a different style.

3. Parenting time and child support are neither weapon nor prize. Make sure that you are seeking time with your children out of a capability and desire to care for them, not to “get back” at your co-parent. If you need child support, make sure that you seek an amount that meets your children’s needs, not your desire to see your co-parent go without. Likewise, a co-parent needing child support or having a schedule that limits the time they can spend with your children is not a weakness for you to exploit. Leave the adversarial approach to the lawyers.

4. Recorded communication with your ex-spouse. Communicate regularly, but through a medium that leaves a record. Use emails, texts, or a system like “Our Family Wizard” to share information about your children. This will help reduce miscommunication and clarify disputes. And should your child(ren) have a chronic condition, having medical information in writing can be crucial to avoid missing appointments or doses of medication.

5. Use a mediator for the hot button issues before going to court. Issues relating to education, religion, and spending time away from home often have former spouses heading back to court. A mediator is often cheaper than lawyers and will have a conciliatory approach, not an adversarial one. While the legal approach is needed in some cases, the less you have to do with an adversarial approach, the better for you and your children.

6. Take care of yourself, especially emotionally. You may have less time to spend with your children, and you may have greater financial strain. Be aware of the effect that stress may have on you and your parenting, and establish calming strategies. You and your children need you to remain healthy and stable.

7. Be honest with yourself and your children. Divorce is difficult, but not the end of your world or theirs. Let them express how they feel about the divorce and spending time with you and your co-parent, but also listen to their feelings about life in general. You can express your sadness and frustration without overburdening your children. Let them know that divorce is hard on adults, too, and that you are working hard to take care of yourself and make things easier for them. Remind them that your co-parent is not the enemy.

This is all easier said than done. You will be trying to co-parent well as you have to rebuild your life, which may include moving to a new house, possibly getting a new job, and considering dating again. Divorce is hard enough on childless couples, and adding children complicates things. But divorced parents can still provide stable and loving environments for their children, often parenting better separately than they ever did while together.

Do you have any co-parenting tips to add? Please share them here.


 

This article has been submitted by Galbraith Family Law, a divorce law firm in Barrie, Ontario.

 

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