Dealing with custody issues can be a headache during the divorce process. And yet, the matter isn’t put to rest once your marriage dissolution is finalized. Instead, you may find yourself in heated disagreements with your former spouse over things as simple as pickup and drop-off times and locations. Welcome to the world of co-parenting.
Ways to make co-parenting easier
Co-parenting doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially when a marriage ended on less than favorable terms. But regardless of how or why your relationship ended, there are some concrete steps that you can take to make co-parenting just a little bit easier. Let’s look at some of them here:
- Try to keep a consistent schedule, thereby making it easier to avoid scheduling conflicts that lead to arguments.
- Use technology to help you coordinate schedules and quickly identify conflicts.
- Maintain a respectful and almost business-like demeanor when interacting with your child’s other parent, even when the other parent tries to ruffle your feathers.
- Keep exchanges of the child quick to avoid any drawn-out conversations that may lead to a dispute.
- Keep all communications focused on your children and quickly shutdown any talk that strays into emotional territory.
- Document your communications with your child’s other parent so that you can show where the breakdown in communications lie.
- Avoid overreacting to your child’s other parent, especially while in the child’s presence.
- Hash out disagreements with the other parent in private, away from your child, while trying to be understanding and respectful.
- Try to be collaborative with your child’s other parent while realizing that you may not always get what you want out of the arrangement.
- Don’t gossip about the other parent when you’re around your child.
- Prevent your child from acting as the peacemaker between you and the other parent.
- Reassure your child that you love him or her and that they are not to blame for the situation.
What to do if co-parenting doesn’t work out
Remember, the custody arrangement that you either negotiated with your spouse or that the court ordered is aimed at protecting your child’s best interests. If your co-parenting relationship isn’t working out, then it may be time to seek a custody modification or some other type of assistance from the court.
If warranted, you can file a motion with the court asking that visitation be modified in some fashion, or that the other parent’s time with your child be restricted. Just remember that you’re going to need evidence to support your position here.
What if the other parent fails to abide by the co-parenting agreement?
If this is the case, then you may need to think about informing the court, which may come through a rule to show cause filing. Here, you essentially ask the court to order the other parent into court to explain why he or she shouldn’t be held in contempt.
When you file one of these motions, you’ll need to specify which order was violated, when it was violated, and the circumstances surrounding the violation. If the court agrees with your position and finds the other parent in contempt, then that parent may be punished accordingly. That contempt finding may also serve as a strong foundation to seek modification.
An attorney may be able to help
We know that following these steps can be tough. But if you think that you need help navigating the intricacies of your co-parenting relationship or your child custody arrangement, then consider discussing the matter with your attorney, as he or she may be able to provide you with additional help and perhaps even legal steps that can set you on the path to a successful co-parenting relationship.