Successful Co-Parenting When You Have a Contentious Relationship with Your Ex
Parents often worry about how a divorce will affect their children. If you are divorced or soon will be, the safety and well-being of your kids are likely your top priority. You may be especially concerned about how your relationship with your ex-spouse will affect your children. While some divorced and unmarried parents remain friends, others can hardly stand to be in the same room together. If your relationship with your ex is closer to the latter, consider the following tips for maintaining a peaceful and effective co-parenting relationship.
Get Everything in Writing
A successful and non-combative co-parenting relationship starts with a strong parenting agreement. In Illinois, divorcing parents are expected to submit a “parenting plan” that describes the parenting schedule and other key parenting concerns. The parenting plan should be as detailed as possible. The more that you have in writing, the less you will be forced to figure out in the future. Furthermore, the elements of your parenting plan are legally enforceable. This means that if your ex refuses to stick with the plan, you can get the plan enforced by the court.
Make sure to include provisions addressing:
- Parenting time schedules including how vacations, holidays, and school breaks will be handled
- What should happen if a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time (called the “right of first refusal)
- When and how children will communicate with a parent during the other parent’s assigned parenting time
Consider a “Parallel Parenting” Approach
Co-parenting does not mean that you and your ex must be in constant communication. In some cases, co-parenting in this manner can create more stress in the lives of the parents and the children. Parallel parenting is an approach to co-parenting that minimizes the communication between the parents. Many parents who wish to avoid co-parenting arguments choose to use email or a co-parenting app like WeParent or OurFamilyWizard to communicate instead of phone calls or face-to-face interactions.
Never Make Your Child Choose Sides
Children are very sensitive to conflict. When divorced parents argue in front of the kids or speak badly about each other, it can have a profound impact on the children's well-being. Bad-talking your ex in earshot of your children or asking them to play messenger can make them feel like they have to choose sides. It can also lead to behavior problems, school difficulties, and psychological issues.
Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer
If you are a parent who is getting divorced or you have questions or concerns about child custody matters, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. Our Kane County divorce attorneys can help you negotiate an effective parenting plan, handle child custody disputes, and more. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.