Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce

It is easy to get lost in your emotions amidst a divorce. During such an emotional time it is easy to forget that divorce may be the end of a marriage but not the end of a family. Sections 153.311 through 153.317 of the Texas Family Code sets forth the standard possession order promulgated by the legislature to encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child. Consequently, co-parenting is viewed as a necessary means to achieve the legislature’s intent. Couples who separate but continue to work cooperatively as parents give their children the best chances for a smooth adjustment to living in two separate households and continued growth.

I recently came across a South Carolina Family Law Blog posting discussing five tips for effective co-parenting. Although much of the advice is common sense, it must be remembered that sometimes our emotions override our "common sense." Here are the five tips:

  1. Keep emotions in check. There may be some lingering anger, sadness and resentment among you, but your kids have already been [sic] enough. Give them the benefit of parents that work together instead of yelling, fighting and name-calling.
  2. Think about the kids. At the end of the day, your children are what really matter, not your own personal feelings towards your former spouse. No matter what kind of disputes come up – from where to spend holidays to disputes over money – put aside what you want or need and take the time to consider your children’s desires and best interests.
  3. Communicate. It will be very difficult for either of you to be effective parents if you do not communicate information to one another. Whether it’s sharing news about school events or updates on your child’s health, make sure you share all important information with the other parent.
  4. Be businesslike. You are no longer married, but you still have to interact with your ex for the sake of your kids. It can sometimes be helpful to stop thinking about your relationship in personal terms and start thinking about it in more professional ones, seeing your ex as a partner in the business of raising happy, healthy children.
  5. Don’t badmouth. You have little to gain and a lot to lose when you choose to say hurtful things about your ex in front of your children. Your children may be well aware of the reasons why you and your former spouse do not get along, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep dragging them out. Even if you no longer love your ex, your children still do, and they deserve an environment that doesn’t attempt to manipulate or deride those feelings.

In addition to basic parenting issues, the couple must somehow find a way to do what was probably a challenge in their relationship: communicate clearly and effectively with each other. Working together is essential to the success of a co-parenting arrangement. It may be hard to work through your communication issues, but everyone will benefit if you do.

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