CO-PARENTS! The Need to Do it Effectively.
Apart from death, divorce is perhaps the most stressful situation any individual will go through in their lives. A divorce with children and uncooperative ex spouses compounds the stress exponentially! As you might imagine, developing a effective co-parenting relationship with your ex is essential to reducing stress in your child’s life and your life. Here are 5 practical things to do in order to develop a practical co-parenting relationship in stressful custody matters:
Tool #1: CONTROL YOUR TONGUE! It should go without saying that you should be respectful and communicate directly and civilly, but remember that your choice of language is important! Get control of your tongue and think before you speak with your ex. Little word choices like “our kid” vs. “my kid” or “I want our kid to attend…” vs. “I have been talking with our child and he expressed that he may want to attend…” are vital to developing an effective co-parenting relationship.
Tool #2: ACCEPT THAT CHANGE WILL BE DISCUSSED AND POTENTIALLY OCCUR! Be prepared that your ex will want to make changes in the custody order. You can’t fly off the handle when the subject is broached. During your child’s life, you will have numerous conversations about potential changes to the custody order.
Tool #3: LISTEN! Things will get more than frosty if you never actually listen to your ex. Try to perform active listening during conversations with your ex. Although you may have a visceral reaction to everything they say now, try and remember that there was a time when you loved this person. You have a child with your ex. You will always be involved in your ex’s life to some extent because of the child.
Tool #4: BE CONSISTENT! No one likes flaky people. If you struggle with over-committing, saying one thing and doing another, or other unpredictable behavior, please try to remember that consistency in this one area will be vital to developing an effective co-parenting relationship. Practical things like sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, e-mails to yourself, texting yourself, or other internal reminders, will help you develop consistency where it really matters.
Tool #5: STICK TO YOUR WRITTEN AGREEMENT! Although you or your ex will want to discuss changes to custody or items impacting the need to be flexible, remember to put all changes in writing. This doesn’t need to be overly legal, oppressive, or lengthy. The point is to remove uncertainty. If both you and your ex know what to expect (because it is in writing), this will help develop an effective co-parent relationship. If you and your ex agree to change the custody arrangement/order, that will also need to be put in writing and a new order granted by a Judge.
Understand Your Rights!
If you have questions or would like to discuss your particular circumstances in more detail, please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to serve your legal needs.