Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce, both you and your former spouse are still parents to your children.
And as such you are going to need to work together, at least until your children are adults.
Co-parenting successfully after divorce may not be easy, but it is possible. Here are some tips to help make it happen.
Co-Parenting Successfully After Divorce: 4 Tips
1. Leave the Past Behind
If there ever was a case of “easier said than done”, then this tip is probably it, but it is also true. You can’t change the past, but you can use your experience of it to shape the future. If you feel like your ex has treated you badly, then focusing your energy on putting your life in order will do you more good than dwelling on the past.
2. Treat Parenting as a Job
One of the challenges of the world of work is that it often brings you into contact with all kinds of people, and even if you don’t necessarily like them, you do have to find a way of working with them. In most workplaces people are expected at least to try to resolve interpersonal issues themselves rather than involving management/HR for every issue.
Similarly, it makes sense for you and your former partner to try to establish a pragmatic working relationship with each other. If your ex really will not cooperate then it may be time to talk to a mediator, and, failing that, possibly a lawyer.
3. Mediation Can Be a Good Place to Start Your Co-Parenting Journey
Most workplaces run induction courses for new employees. You can look at mediation for new co-parents as being the same idea. Mediation gives you and your ex-partner an opportunity to agree a mutually-acceptable co-parenting rule book, which might take a bit of trial-and-error to get right. This is because you will probably both need time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Ideally, it should also allow for a bit of flexibility in case your circumstances change. You might even agree to check in with a mediator every couple of years or at certain milestones to reappraise the situation with the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes.
4. Keep Your Children Front and Center, but Not in the Middle
Your children’s welfare needs to be front and center in every decision you take and every action you make. This means that they should never be put in the middle of issues between you and your ex (or your ex’s new partner or your former in-laws or, in short, anybody else).
You and your partner need to do all the work yourselves “behind the scenes” and then present the results to your children in a consistent way. For example, if you agree that bedtime is at X o’clock on school nights and Y o’clock at other times, then it stays at that time regardless of who has them for the night. If you have any concerns about how your partner is implementing the rules then raise it with them directly (and politely) instead of using your children as messengers.
Elizabeth Bilton is an accredited mediator and qualified solicitor for Midlands Dove, with a specialism in family law disputes. Elizabeth is one of only a few mediators in the UK with an appropriate FMC accreditation to sign off on MIAMs required by the Family Court prior to an application being issued. www.midlandsdove.co.uk