Dealing with Uncooperative Co-Parents

In an ideal world, after a New Mexico separation or divorce involving kids, both parents would be able to move forward and unite as a team to raise healthy, happy children in an environment that is free of conflict. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes, raw emotions and hurt from the past do get in the way of co-parenting.

When you’re co-parenting with someone who is having trouble moving past the conflict, it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t change someone else. This is frustrating, but once you realize and accept you can’t control what your co-parent does, you’ll be able to work on finding real solutions.

How Uncooperative Is Your Co-Parent?

The first thing you need to do when you’re dealing with an uncooperative co-parent is to determine to what extent your ex is refusing to engage. There are different levels of “uncooperative,” and those levels each require their own approach.
Ask yourself a few questions to help gauge where you stand with your co-parent. Can you, for example, say your ex is fully refusing to co-parent, or are you simply having parenting disagreements that you may have had before the divorce or separation? Since co-parenting relationships do sometimes have their ups and downs, it’s vital that you’re able to tell if you’re simply having growing pains or are dealing with a truly uncooperative co-parent.
Next, determine whether the lack of engagement is found across the co-parenting board or if it only appears in relation to certain topics. If your ex actively engages in holiday scheduling, for example, but won’t discuss medical care, you need to know. By determining where the lack of the cooperation lies, you can more effectively plan your next steps.

When Specific Topics Are off the Table

If your ex is not communicating on specific topics but is actively engaged in others, try to figure out what the root cause of that could be. Sometimes, it’s the communication method you’re using; when certain subjects always become heated debates, a person may become hesitant to discuss those hot-button topics. Some communication systems foster conflict instead of helping to solve it, so look at the methods you’re currently using with a critical eye. If, for example, you and your ex don’t agree on some education topics and were getting into text wars over those topics in the past, try a face-to-face conversation about them instead, where you’re less likely to misunderstand each other.
If the communication on certain topics is in serious trouble, consider working with a professional, such as a therapist, to help you work on the problem together.
Other common problem areas for co-parents, such as scheduling and shared expense reimbursement, are easier to tackle than sensitive topics but can still be adding unnecessary conflict to your co-parenting relationship. Have a solid system in place to handle these potential snags and help avoid disputes. Shared expenses should be tracked using software or another documentation method, and the schedule should also be on a shared platform both of you can access to prevent miscommunication, confusion, and other sources of stress.
When conflict is interfering with your co-parenting no matter what you do, it may be time to try a different parenting style. In parallel parenting, for example, direct contact between parents is limited so parents can disengage from each other but still raise their kids in a positive environment.
It’s worth noting that if your ex won’t co-parent in general and will not follow the parenting plan, you may need to speak to a family law attorney about your case.