Parenting is challenging under any circumstances, but if you’re co-parenting with an uncooperative former spouse, conflicts that were molehills during your marriage suddenly become mountains. In an ideal world, divorced parents develop a direct line of communication with each other on childcare issues, but sometimes lingering resentments or a plain old inability to get along can bring cooperation to a screeching halt. Co-parenting is difficult, here are some suggestions on handling co-parenting complications.
Handling Co-Parenting Conflicts
If your divorce settlement stipulated shared responsibility for your child, the court expects both you and your ex to co-parent your child, making decisions that are in his or her best interests. If your divorce was contentious or you’re dealing with an angry ex, co-parenting can become extremely difficult. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some steps you can take to address the problem, especially if the non-cooperative parent’s behavior is affecting your ability to care for your child.
Keep in mind you cannot control another person’s behavior, but you can take proactive actions that let your former spouse know you want to come to an amicable arrangement for the sake of your child. If the other parent is doing things that break or violate your legal agreement, you may need to talk to your attorney. Assuming there’s still a chance you can get the other parent to come to an agreement, try these tips.
- Try to Find Common Ground. If you’re able to have a reasonable conversation with your ex, schedule a time to talk about the problems. Try to keep it as friendly as possible and resist the temptation to blame. Emphasize that you want to find a way to work together, and then ask how they think that can be accomplished. Keep the conversation focused on what is best for your child.
- Write a Letter. Some divorced couples find it difficult to have discussions about their child without it turning into an argument. Try writing a letter that outlines the problems and, if necessary, ask the other parent to engage in mediation, family counseling, or a meeting with a co-parenting counselor. The letter should demonstrate that you want to put differences aside so that you can both move forward with parenting your child. Then run the letter by your attorney to make sure you’re not violating the court’s custody ruling.
- Document Everything. If your ex does not appear willing to cooperate, it’s important to start journaling and documenting everything related to parenting problems in case you need to present it to the court at some point. Be sure to write down what actions occurred, and the date and time they happened. If you have an established method of communication, such as emails or texts, regarding child-related issues, use it to write a short, polite note about the problem so to memorialize it.
Remember, while the court will step in to address violations of a child custody agreement, it will not fix parenting issues. Family law courts are not surprised to find that divorced couples have trouble cooperating with each other!
What’s Best for Your Child
Co-parenting with an uncooperative or absent ex is never ideal, but even through the challenges you may face, you and your child can still thrive. If the parenting problems are simply a matter of petty disagreements or different parenting styles, you may just have to learn to live with them. Some couples find parallel parenting works better for them, with each parent agreeing to respect the other’s parenting style. However you choose to handle it, just make sure it’s always in your child’s best interests.
If you are going through a divorce and battling custody, we can help. The skilled attorneys at Minella Law Group have experience with child custody cases. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you!