Parents who are in the beginning stages of ending their relationship should strive to have an amicable, child centered divorce. Children, regardless of age, will cope better and transition to a single-parent household more efficiently if their concerns and needs are addressed. The only way to guarantee that your divorce is child centered is if you and your ex practice effective co-parenting.
What is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is when a set of individuals work together to parent and raise a child. Typically, this occurs when the caregivers aren’t married or living under the same roof. Stepparents can also be considered co-parents to their spouse’s children. It is common for divorcees to enter into long term relationships or remarry, thus it is not unusual for children of divorce to be raised by two sets of parents.
Given the complex nature of a multi-parent upbringing, it is important for all adults involved to agree on how a child shall be raised, cared for, and nurtured. However, even with the most thorough of arrangements, difficulties may arise.
Parenting and Custody Agreements
A cornerstone of an effective co-parenting relationship is a solid and fair custody and parenting agreement. Each party will conference with their respected counsel and work together to develop a plan of action surrounding terms of custody and how to better parent their children as a divorced family.
Custody and parenting agreements are case specific, and no two agreements will be the same. It is advised that former spouses work together to develop an agreeable plan, however, a judge will intervene and issue their own unbiased order if parties cannot reach an agreement.
Communication is Key
Developing a great communication routine with your ex is the key to having a successful co-parenting partnership. Parenting agreements often include stipulations addressing how, and when, parties are to communicate with each other. Agreements can act as guidelines for communication surrounding school and extra-curricular events, vacation, medical matters, and many other aspects of your child’s life. Couples who divorce on friendly terms will have a much easier time communicating compared to those who are involved in highly contested and stressful separations.
Parents who have a difficult time interacting with each other will need to seek alternative platforms for communication. It is not recommended that a third party (such as the child) is used for communication, since messages may be lost in translation. To help combat this, many companies and divorce advocates are developing websites and mobile apps that provide an alternative forum for communication. Creating and sharing a Google Calendar will allow feuding parents to coordinate their child’s schedule, while other apps help exes manage expenses and track child support payments.
Structure between Households
Divorced parents need to create a united front when it comes to raising their child. This means that there needs to be a similar structure in each household, allowing a child to transition from one home to the other with ease. Having the same rules, timetables, bedtimes, and rewards or punishments will provide consistency in your child’s life.
In addition to providing a sense of familiarity, having a similar structure will assist in preventing parental alienation and familial discord. Tension between exes can be eliminated if there is little chance of one becoming the “fun” parent, and the other the “mean” one who disciplines and has strict rules. Consistency between households is just as fundamental to effective co-parenting as stellar communication skills are.
Cooperate and Let Go
Plans change and last minute emergencies will arise. Being able to adapt and be flexible with your child and his or her schedule is a component of successful co-parenting. Cooperating with your ex in this situation will help to keep your relationship friendly, and they will be more likely to return the favor if roles are ever reversed.
Even though structure between households is important, it is advised that both parents learn to let go and come to terms with the fact that they can’t control every situation. It is okay if one parent is a little more lenient with rules than their ex. Unless your child’s mental, emotional, or physical health is in danger, it is best to let it slide.
New York’s Co-Parenting Advocates
The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. are co-parenting advocates, encouraging their clients to actively work towards building a positive relationship with their ex-spouse. For more information on New York City divorce and family law, contact Brian and his staff to schedule your free and confidential consultation today!