Although the term “co-parenting” or “shared parenting” has been around for years, many of us hadn’t heard of it until the celebrity divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. Co-parenting is thought to be associated with happier and healthier children because of the frequent contact with both parents. But no matter your arrangement, raising children after a divorce peacefully takes a committed effort from both parents. Here are 6 co-parenting commandments to help make your co-parenting situation as successful as possible:
- COLLABORATE: A divorce is financially and emotionally draining enough so its best to collaborate instead of litigate. Reports show that kids living through messy divorces are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. They are also more likely to drop out of school. Strive for a mutually agreeable settlement and make life better for all parties involved, especially your children.
- CREATE A PLAN: Create a parenting plan with your co-parent to set out rules and routines of your partnership. If necessary enlist a third party to help you create a plan that works best with all parties of the family. Suggested items to plan out include how to share birthdays and holidays with the kids; posting on Facebook; introducing kids to new significant others, etc.
- FAIR VS. EQUAL: Do not get caught up into thinking “fair” means sharing access 50/50. Do what makes the most sense for the child. If Dad travels often for work, the time spent with Mom may not look 50/50. Incorporate a schedule that fits best for all parties even if that means giving up some of “your” weekend.
- COMMUNICATION: Effective communication should be a priority for successful co-parenting. Be professional and respectful just like you would do with a client. Don’t use electronic communication to air grievances or stress your child out by turning them into a messenger. Agree up front on your preferred method of communication and what to do in an emergency situation.
- NEGATIVE TALK: Never speak poorly of your co-parent in front of the kids. Negative talk will put kids in a conflicted state and make them feel they have to align with one parent or the other.
- PARENTING MEETINGS: Communicate with your co-parent monthly to discuss your children’s progress. If possible have family meetings with the kids to discuss school, activities, events and any adjustments to the schedule.
A divorce is emotionally painful for all parties involved. But with some committed effort and patience, co-parenting can be successful. Remember you and your co-parent are trying to work together for the best interest of your children. For more information regarding legal issues and your specific situation, contact Gerstenberger Law at (770) 920-7722.
The information found on the Gerstenberger Law site is for educational purposes only. Your situation and the situation of others are unique and more complex. This is neither legal advice nor to be considered legal advice. Contact us for advice about your specific situation.