Divorce is hard for anyone involved, but it is even harder on the children of the relationship. It is always best when parents work together to make the situation as easy as it can possibly be.
This concept of co-parenting, however, is often easier said than done. After all, the relationship did not last for a reason, so it is a fair statement to say that parties may not get along completely. These tips can help parents work together to make the custodial and visitation situation as seamless as possible.
1. Put the Children First
This rule should be at the top of the list because the children should always be put first when coming up with a co-parenting plan. Keep in mind that the end of a relationship or marriage between the parents is a major life event for young children who may not know how to properly cope with the change.
It can be easy to put individual needs first after the parties separate, but it is imperative that both parents keep their eyes on what is best for the children when creating an effective co-parenting situation.
2. Be Civil Around the Children
Granted, it is likely that the parents do not get along or even like each other. After all, the relationship ended for a reason, right? No matter how hard it is, however, it is important that both parents try to be civil around the children when talking to the other parent or even talking about the other parent.
Children pick up on things very quickly, and if they routinely see one parent being rude to the other parent or being hateful when talking about the other parent, that could taint their view of their parent. Remember the old adage: If you do not have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all. Be as civil as possible, even if the other parent is not returning the favor.
3. Keep the Communication Open
Communication is key when it comes to co-parenting. Life happens and schedules change. It is for this reason that it is important that each parent keeps each other apprised of any changes in their or the children’s schedules.
Text or email can be helpful so that there is written proof of the communication, but many courts also utilize software or sites, such as Our Family Wizard, to help keep communication between all parties transparent and open.
4. Be Flexible, If Possible
As stated previously, life happens, and occasionally, the plans that were made before may need to be modified. If one parent asks the other parent to switch days or weeks for a holiday, or if he or she asks if the child can stay an extra night, it helps to consider. If the change is doable, it does promote good will between everyone if the other parent is receptive to occasional change.
Keep in mind that schedules cannot always be changing, as children need some semblance of stability, but do not be combative every time the other parent approaches you with an idea, especially if the child could benefit from it.
5. Use a Parent Facilitator
During the start of negotiations or throughout difficult periods of time with the parents, it may be helpful to utilize the services of a parent facilitator. This process is helpful when parents are going through a situation of high conflict and need assistance in working out an agreeable resolution.
The facilitator is a professional who works almost like a referee between the parties. The parents either meet regularly with the facilitator or as problems arise, without the assistance of attorneys. Many times, these types of arrangements can help diffuse a situation that would otherwise blow up into litigation.
6. Utilize a Shared Calendar
As communication is extremely important for co-parenting to work, it can help if the parties use a shared calendar to keep each other informed. Many Texas court systems have their own tools, but online resources exist, as well, which allow parents to enter in important information, such as school events and doctor’s appointments for the child, so that both parents are aware of this information ahead of time.
It is a common complaint of noncustodial parents that they are not informed of the child’s appointments so that they can be there when they occur and using a shared calendar can allow that information to be shared, as well as maintain a record of it being shared.
Contact A Custody Lawyer Today
If you have questions about co-parenting or working with the other parent on a good parenting plan, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling (979) 318-3075 or completing our online form. We have offices in Angleton, League City/Clear Lake, and Pearland.