Sharing custody with your co-parent isn’t always easy, even if you both have the best of intentions. You may have already hit some rough patches with your co-parent over this last year, particularly if your divorce was more recent. With a new year ahead of you, it’s a great time to set the goal of a better co-parenting relationship. Any steps you take can help you improve your co-parenting experience, which is better for you, your ex, and most importantly, your children.
If you haven’t already done so, try one or all of the ways you can improve your co-parenting below.
Commit to More Regular Communication or Updates
Wanting to go as long as you possibly can before interacting with your ex is a common theme among many co-parents. This is understandable, too, especially if your split was less than amicable. However, you do need to share information about your kids on a regular basis to have a solid co-parenting relationship.
Even if it’s just a quick text explaining what happened at your child’s school or extracurricular activity, keeping your ex updated on your child’s life is the way to go, and the same is true for you. Both of you should regularly update the other on what is happening in your child’s life during their respective time with you. This keeps everyone on the same page, which is much better for your children and can also lessen any confusion and misunderstandings between you and your ex.
Opt to Give Each Other Space When There is Tension
Getting into angry spats over the little things does no one any good. There will be small disagreements between you and your co-parent, but you can work together to handle those in ways that don’t allow them to balloon into a major conflict. Pledge to give your spouse time to cool off when there is a disagreement, and ask them to do the same for you. This way, you can return to the subject a day or two later, when you are both more open to solving the problem instead of having it escalate.
Pledge to Keep Your Kids Out of Your Conflicts
Even with your best efforts, it is possible you have or will get into arguments with your ex in front of your kids or make an insulting remark about your ex with your kids in earshot. While there is no way to go back in time and erase those past mistakes, you can commit now to keeping a more positive attitude about your shared custody situation. Recommitting to becoming the best possible co-parent will make sharing the parenting of the children with your ex less stressful.
Of course, if you find you are having repeated issues with your ex over the parenting plan and schedule, it may be time to reach out to a family law attorney for some help. An attorney can help you enforce any parts of the plan your ex is not following, and they can also assist you with changing the plan where you think it may be needed.
Keep in mind that you cannot take enforcement measures–such as preventing the ex from seeing the kids because they owe child support–on your own. This could land you in hot water with the judge on your case. The same is true of plan modifications. Even if you and your ex come to a verbal agreement over parenting plan modifications, those changes still need to be put in writing and approved by the court to be official and legally binding.