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Tips to help you successfully co-parent with your ex

Divorcing your spouse does not mean you do not have to ever deal with him or her again. If you have children together, you have to learn new skills to successfully co-parent with the person you feel you cannot stay married to. Co-parenting is quite beneficial to kids because it creates stability and lets them have a close relationship with both of their parents. It may not be easy to co-parent, but you can be the bigger person and do what is best for the children. Here are eight tips to help you get started:

● Treat your ex-spouse the way you want to be treated. Practice empathy with the other parent and your kids. Let your children voice their feelings about the situation without judgment or jealousy.

● Have flexibility in your schedule. Joint custody is not 50-50 parenting time. Give your children some freedom to go with the other parent on your time when something special comes up.

● Do not use your children as messengers. Even simple messages about bedtime or medication can easily be "lost in translation."

● Your ex is likely not going to change, which means you are going to have to make the best of this situation. Find a third-party mediator or therapist who can help you resolve big differences.

● Realize that even if you were still married, you and your ex might still have different parenting styles. Kids can learn different rules for different houses.

● Encourage your kids to stay connected to the other parent, and help them share special moments with the other parent. You may have to help your kids remember birthdays, Father's and Mother's Day or other special occasions.

● Remember to respect each other's parenting time. Do not linger over exchanges, and do not call too often when your children are with the other parent.

● Enjoy the days your kids are with the other parent. Take advantage of your time as a single adult without children. When your kids come back, you will be ready to be a parent again because you have recharged.

Custody arrangements may need to be reevaluated

The needs of your children will change over time. As they get older and their schedules get busier, you may have to work even harder to co-parent and make sure they have a relationship with the other parent. Your children are sure to appreciate the effort you put into co-parenting. If you do need to modify a custody order, talk to an attorney to ensure you handle the process appropriately.

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