Divorce is rarely easy. Even if a couple can agree on most things, there are still emotions to process and practical complications to overcome. These challenges are magnified when children are involved.
A divorcing couple with children cannot simply go their separate ways and start fresh. This makes it even more important to, whenever possible, let go of contention, anger and bitterness against a former spouse. Holding on to these negative emotions will only make the co-parenting process that much more difficult on everyone involved.
Successful co-parenting is possible
If you are in the beginning stages of a divorce, it may seem impossible to think that one day you'll have a successful co-parenting arrangement. It is possible, however, if you focus primarily on your child's best interests instead of your own emotions and desires.
Child psychologists recommend that divorcing parents, above most else, limit contention between themselves. Fostering as positive a relationship as possible is the key to successful co-parenting in the years to come. Research proves a definite causal link between divorcing parents' hostility and negative consequences (both mental and physical) for the children.
Recommendations for success
- Avoid arguing in front of the children. Even if you disagree, treat each other cordially when little ones are present. Don't expose the children to shouting, name-calling or worse.
- Inasmuch as possible, if your emotions are still raw, try to focus your interactions with your child's co-parent solely on child-related issues. This may help avoid arguments altogether.
- Don't use the children as a "go-between" for communication with the co-parent. Talk to other parent directly about scheduling changes, concerns, and issues instead of using your child as a messenger.
- Never forget the myriad benefits associated with having both a mother and father present. It may be tempting to cut the child's other parent off in retaliation for actions taken during the marriage or while the divorce is ongoing. Resist this temptation. Children should only be kept from one parent if it is truly in their best interests (as in cases of domestic abuse, criminal activity, neglect or substance abuse).
- Steer clear of "bad-mouthing" your former spouse in a misguided attempt to be your child's favorite. Parental alienation is hugely detrimental to the family as a whole, and it could even lead a court to revoke custody or visitation rights on the part of the person doing it.
If you're considering filing for divorce - or you need to modify preexisting divorce orders, parenting plans or alimony arrangements to reflect changed circumstances - reach out to an experienced family law attorney in your area today.