The role of co-parenting after divorce. A divorce or separation can be extremely difficult on a couple’s children. All of a sudden, the kids go from living in a seemingly stable two-parent household to being caught in the middle of a bitter break-up. In particular, having to go back and forth between the father’s house and the mother’s house can be a traumatic change. There is no way to completely shield children from the negative effects of this process. However, by putting in place a good co-parenting plan, the separating couple can ease some of the difficulty for their children.
Strategies for an Effective Co-Parenting Arrangement
Here are some suggestions for creating a co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone:
1. Put your children first: Always remember that your children’s interests are the most important consideration. Their childhood experiences will shape them for the rest of their lives, so it is imperative that you protect them from conflict and negativity as much as possible.
2. Get a court order: This will make your co-parenting plan legally enforceable, meaning you will have a remedy in the event that your ex violates the terms of the agreement.
3. Live near your ex: Whenever possible, it is advisable for the two parents to live near each other, so that the children can regularly and easily spend time with both of them.
4. Respect each other’s parenting style: While the couple’s parenting styles may differ significantly, it is desirable that they respect each other’s methods. Otherwise, they end up undermining each other and confusing their children when it comes to expectations and boundaries.
5. Communicate with each other: Both parents need to be able to communicate regularly and effectively, so that you both know what is going on in your children’s lives. This will help avoid misunderstandings, both with each other and with your children.
6. Stay involved in your children’s activities: Both parents should stay as involved as possible in their kids’ school and extracurricular activities. Even if the parents would prefer not to be near each other, it is important that they can be civil with each other when they are in public or with their children.
7. Create a shared document that both parents can access: You should develop a Google Doc or other cloud-based document that both parents can access and utilize to share information about their kids. You can use this document to, among other things, coordinate scheduling and maintain emergency contact numbers.
8. Hire an attorney: Each parent should hire their own attorney who has experience drafting co-parenting plans. Having an attorney on retainer will come in especially handy if there are child support or custody issues involved in the divorce or separation.
What to Do if You Have Children and Are Separating from Your Spouse
If you have children and are going through a divorce or separation with your spouse, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and provide you with advice and guidance regarding your concerns.
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