Co-Parenting After Separation

Co-Parenting After Separation

Co parenting after separation

What is Co-Parenting?

Joint parenting arrangements can be exhausting, infuriating, and fraught with stress, especially if you have a contentious relationship with your former spouse. You may feel concerned about your former spouse’s parenting abilities, stressed out about child support or other financial issues, feel worn down by conflict, or think you’ll never be able to overcome all the resentments in your relationship.

Making shared decisions, interacting with each other at drop-offs, or just speaking to a person you’d rather forget all about can seem like impossible tasks. For the sake of your kids’ well-being, though, it is possible for you to overcome co-parenting challenges and develop a cordial working relationship with your former spouse.

Unless your family has faced serious issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse, co-parenting—having both parents play an active role in their children’s daily lives—is the best way to ensure that all your kids’ needs are met and enable them to retain close relationships with both parents. The quality of the relationship between co-parents can also have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of children, and the incidence of anxiety and depression. Of course, putting aside relationship issues, especially after an acrimonious split, to co-parent agreeably is sometimes easier said than done.

Making Co-Parenting work

The key to successful co-parenting is to separate the personal relationship with your former spouse from the co-parenting relationship. It may be helpful to start thinking of your relationship with your former spouse as a completely new one—one that is entirely about the well-being of your children, and not about either of you.

Whilst your marriage and/or relationship may be over, your family is not, therefore acting in your kids’ best interest is your most important priority. The first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs ahead of your own.

Through your co-parenting partnership, your kids should recognize that they are more important than the conflict that ended your marriage—and understand that your love for them will prevail despite changing circumstances.

Co-Parenting Tips for Separated Parents

Co-parenting after a separation or divorce is not easy. These shared parenting tips can help give your children the stability, security, and close relationships with both parents that they need.

With the following tips, you can remain calm, stay consistent, and resolve conflicts to make joint custody work and enable your kids to thrive.

  1. Set aside your differences, hurt and anger aside. Successful co-parenting means that your own emotions—any anger, resentment, or hurt—must take a back seat to the needs of your children. Admittedly, setting aside such strong feelings may be the hardest part of learning to work cooperatively with your former spouse, but it’s also perhaps the most vital. Co-parenting is not about your feelings, or those of your former spouse, but rather about your child’s happiness, stability, and future well-being. That being said, it is okay to be hurt and angry, but your feelings don’t have to dictate your behaviour. Instead, let what’s best for your kids motivate your actions.
  2. Improve communication with your co-parent. Peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your former spouse is essential to the success of co-parenting, even though it may seem absolutely impossible. It all begins with your mindset. Think about communication with your former spouse as having the highest purpose: what is best for your kids. Before having contact with your ex, ask yourself how your actions will affect your child. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you have with your former spouse. Remember that it isn’t always necessary to meet your ex in person, speaking over the phone or exchanging texts or emails is fine for the majority of conversations or even having a communication book. The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you. Lastly, keep conversations child focused. Never let a discussion with your former spouse digress into a conversation about your needs or their needs; it should always be about your child’s needs only.
  3. Co-parent as a Team. Parenting is full of decisions you’ll have to make with your ex, whether you like each other or not. Cooperating and communicating without blow-ups or bickering makes decision-making far easier on everybody. If you shoot for consistency, geniality, and teamwork with your co-parent, the details of child-rearing decisions tend to fall into place. It’s healthy for children to be exposed to different perspectives and learn to be flexible, but they also need to know they’re living under the same basic set of expectations at each home. Aiming for consistency between your home and your ex’s avoids confusion for your children.
  4. Resolving co-parenting disagreements. As you co-parent, you and your former spouse are bound to disagree over certain issues. Keep the following in mind as you try to reach a consensus:-
    – Simple manners should be the foundation for co-parenting. Being considerate and respectful includes letting your former spouse know about school events, being flexible about your schedule when possible, and taking their opinion seriously.
    – If you disagree about something important, you will need to continue communicating. Never discuss your differences of opinions with or in front of your child. If you still can’t agree, you may need to talk to a third party, like a therapist or mediator
    – Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you disagree about important issues like a medical surgery or choice of school for your child, by all means, keep the discussion going. But if you want your child in bed by 7.30pm and your former spouse says 8.00pm, let it go and save your energy for the bigger issues.
    – Compromise. Yes, you will need to come around to your former spouse’s point of view as often as they come around to yours. It may not always be your first choice, but compromise allows you both to “win” and makes both of you more likely to be flexible in the future.
  5. Make transitions and visitations easier. The actual move from one household to another, whether it happens every few days or just certain weekends, can be a very hard time for children. While transitions are unavoidable, there are many things you can do to help make them easier on your children. As kids prepare to leave your house for your former spouse, try to stay positive and deliver them on time.
    – Help children anticipate change. Remind kids they’ll be leaving for the other parent’s house a day or two before the visit.
    – Depending on their age, help children pack their bags well before they leave so that they don’t forget anything they’ll miss. Encourage packing familiar reminders like a special stuffed toy or photograph.

The beginning of your child’s return to your home can be awkward or even rocky. To help your child adjust:
– When children first enter your home, try to have some down time together—read a book or do some other quiet activity
– To make packing simpler and make kids feel more comfortable when they are at the other parent’s house, have kids keep certain basics—toothbrush, hairbrush, pyjamas at both houses.
– Children often need a little time to adjust to the transition. If they seem to need some space, do something else nearby. In time, things will get back to normal.

If this article has prompted some questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Solari and Stock Miranda. Contact us on 8525 2700 to discuss the appointment options during this COVID lockdown or click here to request an appointment one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors.

Article written by Nikita Ward
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

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