Divorce is a difficult and emotional process for anyone, but if you and your spouse have children, a lot of the real work begins only after the divorce is final. That is because the hard job of co-parenting requires the two of you to follow a parenting and custody plan as outlined in the divorce agreement or court order, during a time when you would probably rather not have to remain in contact.
Co-parenting is a challenge, and it is not easy to do it well. However, there are some tips that can help you move forward in co-parenting together with your former spouse, so that your children will benefit from your efforts.
1. Be flexible with scheduling
Although your court order or divorce agreement sets forth the legal parameters that govern which parent the children spend time with and when, flexibility in this area is a big help to successful co-parenting. Your children will benefit from the opportunity to take advantage of spending extra time with the other parent when and if it is a possibility, and to participate in special events with the other parent when the children are actually scheduled to be with you.
2. Respect visitation schedules
Flexibility is important when possible, but equally important is mutual respect for the visitation schedules set forth in your divorce court order or agreement. Visitation is set up in the best interests of the child. Not following orders can create legal trouble for you in addition to negatively impacting your children. If there are reasons that you cannot follow the visitation schedule, you need to speak with your attorney so that you can stay on the right side of the law and search for a solution.
3. Keep communication open
It can be a challenge to keep communication open and civil with your ex-spouse, but it is essential if you want a productive co-parenting relationship. Try to take the emotion out of your communication so that you can focus on your children and their needs. When you make your kids the center of your decisions, the whole family will benefit from the reduction in conflict.