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Head off co-parenting conflict with your parenting plan

If you have children, your divorce will not represent the final contact you have with your future former spouse. Indeed, you will always have a connection through your children. If you are like other North Carolina parents, you want to do what you can to make that contact as conflict-free as possible, for everyone’s sake.

The last thing you want is your differences with your ex-spouse to interfere with raising your children, especially in the first year or so when everything changes. So, what can you do?

Make a plan and write it down

Your ex probably knows how to push your buttons, and you know how to push his or hers. If you both recognize this, you can create a parenting plan that helps you avoid the situations and scenarios that would most likely lead to disagreements and conflict. For instance, you can put terms in your parenting plan to avoid issues such as the following:

  • Agree not to put the children in the middle. What they need is the love of both parents, not to have to choose sides or deliver messages to the other parent.
  • Create a parenting schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Everyone knows that unexpected issues can arise, but in the ordinary course of events, follow the schedule.
  • Find some common ground when it comes to discipline. The children need to know what to expect regardless of which parent they are with, and neither should earn the reputation of being the “strict parent.”
  • Agree not to undermine, micromanage or belittle the other parent, especially not in front of the children. Your children need to see a united front.
  • Agree not to “out do” each other with gifts, trips and other extravagances. Of course, you can treat your children periodically but not if it only happens in order to diminish your children’s view of the other parent.
  • Child support often sparks arguments between divorced parents since many people view the money as extra earnings for the former spouse, but that isn’t true. Parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially, and that money is designed to help them maintain a certain standard of living, so resolve not to argue about it.
  • Discuss and address issues such as bedtime, homework and other routines in your parenting plan. The more you both remain on the same page, the fewer disagreements you may have about these daily-life issues.

The bottom line is that you both need and deserve the right to foster good relationships with your children despite the divorce. The more support you give each other toward that goal, the happier everyone will be, especially your children.

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