Marshall Waller, a family lawyer in Calabasas, answers:
Co-parenting is an effective way to help children move on from divorce. It allows both parents to guide the child’s development, as would be the case in an intact family. The only difference, though, is that in a co-parenting situation, the child lives in two houses. Each parent spends time raising the child and then allows the other parent to do the same in a separate location. For co-parenting to work, divorced spouses must work cooperatively with each other. Spouses need to drop whatever bitterness they have from the divorce and focus on doing what is best for their child.
This is easier said than done, but a few strategies can help. First, find a friend, a therapist, or other trusted adult to discuss your feelings about the divorce. By venting feelings to an outside person, you may avoid venting to the children. Children of divorce are entitled to a relationship with both parents and should not be dissuaded by one spouse from having contact with the other.
Parents who have problems setting aside their feelings could also follow the co-parenting strategy of remaining child-focused. This strategy involves looking at photographs and other items featuring the children. Such items will remind a parent why it is important for them to place the children first and give co-parenting a chance.
A third co-parenting strategy is to commit to regular communication with the ex-spouse. Ex’s who communicate on a regular basis find it easier to coordinate their parenting efforts. They also make it clear that they are united in supporting the children’s best interests. This unity can go a long way toward helping children feel safe and secure in the wake of divorce.
Marshall Waller is a Certified Family Law Specialist with Feinberg & Waller in Calabasas, CA. He has gained a reputation as a dynamic and entertaining speaker and has spoken nationally and locally to trade, civic, and private organizations.