divorce, it is the beginning of a new partnership in co-parenting their
children. Co-parenting goes much more smoothly when there is a plan in place;
it assures that no matter how you feel about your ex-spouse, the children’s
interests will come first.
to determine if you and your ex-spouse are comfortable enough to communicate
directly about co-parenting issues regarding the children. If you’re able to
talk through things on your own, that’s terrific; however, if you find it too
difficult, don’t feel frustrated. Mediators and therapists can help you to
discuss co-parenting issues that you may have trouble talking about on your
own.There are five
keys to making post-divorce co-parenting easier:
1. Put Your Co-Parenting Plan in Writing in the Divorce Agreement.
The more you lay out parenting terms in writing, the less room there is for
disagreement down the road. A little pre-planning can save you court battles
and lawyer fees later.
2. Decide Who Will Pay For Which Expenses in Advance.
Rather than splitting every cost as it comes up, try to divide who will pay for
which expenses ahead of time. For instance, the father may choose to cover
football expenses for the son, while the mother agrees to cover the piano
lessons for the daughter. Again, if you have a hard time dividing this up on
your own, a divorce mediator or parenting coordinator can help you.
3. Discuss the Best Ways to Have the Kids Meet New Romantic Partners.
This issue is easier to discuss before there is actually someone new in the
picture. Having an agreement on parent-dating etiquette in your divorce
agreement can save a lot of problems down the road.
4. Hold Regular Meetings to Stay on Track.
Regular meetings (in-person, over the phone, or via email) allow both parents
to stay up-to-date with new situations as they arise with the kids.
5. It’s Okay to Ask for Professional Help.
Don’t feel badly if you need a professional to help you work out your
co-parenting differences. When tensions run high, it can be hard to put
feelings aside and make decisions. Hiring a mediator can help you get back on
track and focus on how to help your kids in the situation. Having parents stand
together on a parenting front can bring a huge amount of security to the kids.
No one ever
said that working together as a team to parent your children after divorce
would be easy. Both spouses need to be dedicated to their role as parents and
willing to compromise. Hiring a mediator can help parents make the children a
top priority. It’s very common for parents to have disagreements after divorce
when terms are not mapped out in the divorce agreement and they are having
trouble communicating calmly. When one is needed, a trained mediator can help
parents get past the emotions at hand and find solutions that truly are best
for their children.
Brian James is an experienced divorce and family mediator with offices throughout Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. He runs a mediation practice, C.E.L. and Associates. He can be reached at (312) 524-5829. View his Divorce Magazine profile.