Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Separation or divorce creates an incredibly hard time for everyone involved. It becomes more challenging when you have to co-parent after the separation. It is crucial to get the balance right as the future well-being of your children depends on it. There are several steps that you can take to make your co-parenting journey smoother. In this article, I am discussing six rules to follow that will make it easier for separated parents to co-parent avoiding future legal complications.
1. Acknowledgement -
It is in your child’s best interests that after the separation or divorce, you stay on amicable terms with your ex-partner. Although you will not be a couple, you need to be in the same parenting team for your kids. It would be beneficial for acting as co-parents if you acknowledge the other parent’s say in making parenting decisions. If you can still be amicable, put in some effort to make joint decisions. It will make it easier for both of you to raise the child together. The child will also have a clear sense of boundaries.
You must acknowledge your child’s right to spend time with, communicate with and have a relationship with the other parent. It will help your child with his/her emotional development. It will also help you to maintain a healthy working relationship with the other parent.
If a Consent Order or a Parenting Plan has been made to determine how much time the child should spend with each parent, you must stick to that plan. It will help you to avoid future legal complications. It will also help you to define your responsibilities towards your child.
The key to successful co-parenting after separation is communication between the parents. You will need to communicate with each other to make joint decisions and address any ongoing issues about your child. Open communication will help you both to achieve unambiguous parenting decisions.
You should let the child communicate with the other parent without any intervention. It will help you to maintain a trusting relationship between you, your child and the other parent.
It is important to remember that the divorce process is quite difficult for your child as it is for you and your ex-partner. The children often have many difficult questions about their changing circumstances due to the divorce of their parents. You should mindfully attend to those questions without making derogatory comments towards the other parent.
Divorce or separation will undoubtedly change the way your family used to live or operate. However, to give your child some sense of structure, you and your ex-partner should decide some ground rules for your child together. It will provide the child with consistency. It will also mean that the two of you cannot be played against each other.
As co-parents, both of you should work as a team focusing on the best interest and well-being of your child, not on your conflicts. Both of you will be making all major long-term decisions together, which include:
ii. Religious and cultural upbringing;
iv. The name/names by which the child is known; and
v. Any changes to the child’s living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with each parent;
You should also work as a team to decide things like:
i. Technology usage – when and for how long can technology be used?
ii. Homework – when and where must it be completed?
iii. Curfews – make sure your child has the same curfew at each home
Successful teamwork between co-parents can help reduce stress and give the children the best possible upbringing.
4. Be Respectful-
To establish and maintain a working co-parenting relationship, you and your ex-partner need to respect each other. Both of your parenting styles could be different. It does not mean your ex-partner’s opinion on parenting is wrong if it is different from yours. You must respect the day-to-day decisions the other parent makes for the child.
If you believe that your ex-partner is parenting your child in a way that either contravenes your parenting agreement or the consent order, you should raise this as an issue. However, if the issue is regarding their parenting style, which is different from yours, you should respect the other parent’s decision unless that put the child at risk.
Maintaining a respectful relationship between the co-parents helps the child to be respectful and happy.
5. Maintain Boundaries-
Co-parenting needs boundaries to succeed. You should not intervene in the relationship between your child and the other parent.
If you are asking your child for information about the other parent, that may not be in your child's best interest. If you have any queries, you should ask the other parent directly. While the child is with you, focus on your relationship with him/her and enjoy the time together. It will help you to build a strong and trusting relationship with your child.
6. Keep Trying-
Co-parenting is not easy. The process will test you in every possible way through various ups and downs. However, the challenge is to never give up. It will help you if you focus on your child’s well-being rather than your own emotions. Your co-parenting relationship will strengthen over time, to help your child grow up as an emotionally sound adult.
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