Co-Parenting After Divorce
You and your ex are committed to doing what is best for children. You helped them through the divorce process and are doing your best not to bad-mouth each other in front them. You want them to know you both love and care for them. This, however, doesn’t help you with the logistics of how to co-parent. Here are some things that might help.
The key to any co-parenting arrangement is communication. You don’t have to sit down face-to-face if that is uncomfortable for you, but you do need to agree to a method of communication and stick to it. You can text, call or email. Choose something that works for both of you. Recognize that there will be exceptions. Don’t create a fuss if your ex calls instead of texting. Your court order will offer some guidance, but it is not going to have the details of how and when to communicate with each other. Your divorce was governed by the Model Marriage and Divorce Act, but the logistics of attending your child’s baseball game probably is not.
Make a Plan
Now that you are communicating, you need to have a plan for the details. Your parenting styles are most likely different, but you should come together to continue to give your children the routine and structure that they need. For example, if you have a nightly ritual of singing a particular song with your kids, you and your ex need to decide if and how that will happen when they are with your ex. The technology of video chat makes it possible, but is it the right thing for the kids? It may be hard, but you need to trust each other with the care of your children. Plan for when and how exchanges will happen. Decide how you will handle school events and parent-teacher conferences. You can’t structure every moment your children are with the other, but you can set parameters around how much you will share with each other and how you will talk to your kids about the time they spent with the other.
Employ a Tracking Method
Schedules get busy, so you need to keep track of who has the kids and when. There are computer programs and services that can help with this. You can also use an online calendar. Being on the same on the same page will help alleviate arguments. Make sure you are both listed as contacts for school, daycare and other programs your children attend. This ensures things will go smoothly if plans change and your ex needs to pick up your child from dance class instead of you. Involve your children if it is age appropriate. Don’t put them in the middle of adult decisions, but you could allow them to decide what they will take back and forth between homes.
Things will not always go as planned. However, if you maintain these basic principles, you will be able to work through your differences and do what is best for your kids and each other. If you find that you are not able to make it work, consult an attorney to help negotiate a more structured plan.