How to successfully co-parent with a former spouse

There are certain things parents should and shouldn’t do after divorce to ensure their co-parenting efforts are successful.

With increasing frequency, many parents in Arkansas are awarded joint custody and joint physical custody over their children. Joint custody gives both parents the right to make major decisions that affect their children and joint physical custody arrangements allow the children to spend time with both of their parents. Although sharing custody is often what is best for their children, it can be challenging for parents to adjust to this new situation. However, there are several strategies parents should use to ensure that this arrangement is successful.

What to do

According to Psychology Today, parents should do several things to enhance the quality of their co-parenting efforts. These include the following:

  • Commit to an open dialogue-Parents should openly share information with each other by emailing, texting, having face-to-face conversations or using online applications to handle scheduling.
  • Agree upon consistent rules-Parents should work together to develop a routine for their children that is similar for both households. For instance, if the children go to bed at a certain time at one parent's house, they should go to bed at the same time at the other's.
  • Speak positively-Although it may be relieving to share the same concerns, parents should make it a rule that their children do not speak negatively about their other parent.
  • Participate in ordinary activities-If one parent sees their children less than the other, they should keep in mind that they do not have to fill their time together strictly with exciting activities.

Although it may be complex and emotional, parents should also provide their former spouse with regular updates about their lives to make sure that their children are not their primary source of information.

What not to do

To ensure their co-parenting arrangement is beneficial for their children, there are also certain things parents should avoid doing. For example, parents should avoid exposing their children to conflicts that arise due to the joint parenting arrangement. According to Psychology today, studies have shown that burdening children with adult issues promotes feelings of insecurity and helplessness.

Parents should also refrain from allowing their children to do things they wouldn't normally allow to punish their ex-spouse. For instance, if a child is staying with one parent and they do not want to do their homework assignment, parents should still require their child to complete this task so that the other parent does not have to punish their child for failing to complete their assignment later on.

While co-parenting presents many challenges, it is often beneficial for children of divorced parents to have both of their parents involved in their lives as much as possible. If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce and are worried about how your time with your children will be divided, consult with an attorney who can provide guidance and reassurance.

Keywords: divorce, co-parenting, custody, visitation