Creating a Co-Parenting Relationship that Best Supports Your Children
Regardless of your relationship with your former spouse, when you have children from the marriage, you lose the luxury of never seeing your ex again, and have to find a way to co-parent. Take thoughtful steps to generate peace between yourself and your ex, in order to best create a happy and secure home life for your children. Below are some suggestions on how to manage a shared custody arrangement with a former spouse in a healthy way.
- Choose your battles carefully
It can be difficult even for partners who are still committed to one another to agree on every matter relating to their children’s upbringing, but agreeing on such questions becomes much more challenging after a divorce. While you might be tempted to try and determine each aspect of your children’s lives, smaller matters such as what they watch on TV, what they wear to school, or what they eat may become both impossible for you to control, and not worth the additional fighting with your former spouse. Compromising on lesser issues can build good will with your ex-spouse.
- Remain respectful toward your children’s other parent, and don’t make them choose
It’s a cliché because it’s true: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It might be hard to bite your tongue around your kids when your ex is making you nuts, but diminishing the respect your children hold for their other parent will only make their lives harder, and make them feel as though they need to “choose” you in order to remain in your good graces. Speak of your ex to your kids as you’d wish to be spoken about, and save the venting for your best friend or analyst.
- Adhere to a schedule, and make each parent’s residence feel as much like home as possible
Keeping your custodial arrangement as stable and predictable as possible will provide comfort and stability after your divorce. Make sure that your children’s rooms feel like their own, regardless of which parent’s home they’re in. Some former spouses even have an arrangement where the children remain in their home, while the parents switch off weeks of living in an apartment, so that the children are always in their own space.
- Try to have disagreements in private
Your children will always benefit from having a functional adult relationship modeled for them. If you find it challenging to keep your cool around your former spouse, consider having conversations that could become contentious over email or text message, not when you’re exchanging custody.
- Try to reach decisions about changes in the custodial arrangement before going to court, perhaps using the help of a mediator
Your needs, and those of your child, may change and evolve as you discover what life is like after divorce. Your child may develop an extracurricular activity that requires additional time or expense, or your job may change, such that you can no longer afford the child support payment previously established. Changing such fundamental aspects of the agreement you reached before the family court can be a huge source of conflict, but dueling it out before a family part judge will result in a great deal of expense and time. Try to calmly reach an agreement between each other before going to court, and, if necessary, find a family law attorney who can serve as an informal mediator for such disputes.
For assistance in negotiating child custody agreements, contact experienced New Jersey family law and custody arrangement attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation, at 908-964-0102.