A divorce is never an easy process emotionally, especially when children are involved. While a divorce can be contested or uncontested, there is almost always some form of uneasiness between both spouses, even if they’ve chosen to remain friends following the divorce.
When children are involved, emotions can run even higher, especially when both spouses are involved in the children’s lives and want the very best for them. If the spouses are appointed joint custody by a judge, there has to be communication between the two parties when raising their children.
While they’re minors—and even when they’re adults—you’ll need to keep open communication between you and the children’s other parent for everyday and unexpected life occurrences like birthdays, medical conditions, holidays, etc.
For you and your former spouse to communicate effectively you’ll need to establish a solid co-parenting relationship. Keep reading for some tips for successful co-parenting so you can make your joint custody process a smoother one for all involved.
Tip #1: Never Let Your Children See that You’re Frustrated
Perhaps the most important tip, ensuring your children aren’t aware of when you’re frustrated with the other parent will keep your children less stressed through a difficult time in their lives. When children are involved in a divorce or custody case they’re likely struggling with many different emotions such as sadness, frustration, and shock. The last thing children need to witness during this transition are parents who are visibly frustrated with one another.
To hide your frustration (and there will likely be some times when it becomes extremely difficult to do so), you’ll need to adopt a few practices to be successful. First, it’s important to recognize your emotions and appropriately release the frustration away from your children. Next, you and the person you’re co-parenting with should remain civil in front of the children. Try to act professional, almost treating co-parenting like a business deal. When you remove your emotions and frustrations from the equation, your children won’t feel those emotions, resulting in an easier transition and overall life.
Tip #2: Try Therapy
You may be thinking we’ve already tried marriage counseling before a divorce and that didn’t work but trust us when we say that meeting with a therapist who specializes in co-parenting and helps parents that are going through similar situations can be extremely helpful.
When you and your children’s other parent agree to meet with a co-parenting therapist, it’s almost like you’re both waving your white flags and agreeing to resolve issues. A professional can help you both reconcile any parenting or communication issues so you can resolve things and establish a better co-parenting relationship. If one of you tends to get a little heated during discussions or disagreements then a therapist can help you navigate them and future disagreements in a healthy manner.
Tip #3: Share a Family Calendar
Since you and your co-parent aren’t involved in each other’s day-to-day lives like you once were, there will be events and random things that come up that can make sticking to a co-parenting schedule challenging.
To keep track of sports practices, dance recitals, vacations, and other miscellaneous events, a shared family calendar can come in handy. It’s easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day life and accidentally schedule two events for the same time or forget that your co-parent is out of town. A shared family calendar will help alleviate the stress of having to remember everything off the top of your head.
Keeping a shared family calendar online using a resource like Google Calendars grants multiple people access to view and make edits to the calendar so everyone can be involved. The odds are both you and your co-parent have smartphones so you’ll be able to simply download and have access to your shared family calendar at all times.
Tip #4: Be Respectful when it Comes to New Relationships
There may come a time when you or your co-parent enter a new relationship, whether it be a short-term or long-term one. When a new partner enters the picture, the other co-parent may feel threatened or even jealous about a new, possibly permanent adult being around their children. If this does happen, whether you’re the one entering a new relationship or your co-parent, be respectful.
For starters, if you’re the one in a new relationship then be respectful of your co-parent’s feelings; they may take time to warm up to the idea. Also, be mindful of keeping your opinions to yourself and not letting your children know if you aren’t excited about your co-parent’s new partner. You’ll also want to keep your new partner out of your parenting plan unless your co-parent agrees to any adjustments. Always check with your attorney to ensure you won’t be violating your custody agreement before making any adjustments.
By keeping the tips above in mind as you navigate your co-parenting plan, you’re bound to have a smoother and easier time effectively communicating with your co-parent. As a result and most importantly, your children will feel less stressed as well.
If you’re currently going through a custody case or the divorce process and are looking for a family law attorney in Lee’s Summit or a divorce attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas.