Parental rights and responsibilities, sometimes referred to as child custody, is complicated for co-parents. You navigate the normal trials and tribulations of parenthood, but now you must do it separately, while navigating two new lives. Add to that the negative feelings that come with a divorce or split between unmarried couples, and you have a recipe for disaster. However, successfully fulfilling your parental rights and responsibilities does not have to be hard. If you work together, you both can live your best lives.
Think about your kids
Even if you don’t like your child’s other parent, think of your kids. Seldom does a slip not affect a child. Kids have an inherent need for stability that may be destroyed by divorce. They must navigate your life and your ex’s life, while everyone navigates feelings of frustration and misunderstanding, not to mention the parental competitiveness that can creep in. At the end of the day, do it to make this time of transition easier on your children.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Unfortunately, the biggest issue that leads to divorce is communication, but that is also the key to successfully co-parenting. Therefore, most experts recommend that divorcing couples enter family therapy and individual therapy for your children. And, in combination, as a group and individually, everyone can work through their issues and learn how to effectively communicate with each other.
Document, document, document
Even if your divorce was not contentious, co-parenting rarely has no hiccups. And, hiccups post-divorce can lead to litigation. This is why you should document everything. Keep a diary or another accounting of all your interactions. It should include documented proof, like follow-up emails and texts, the time, place and date of the interaction. You should also include a narrative description of the interaction and any potential witnesses. If litigation ensues, this documentation can help protect your rights.
Be a scheduling rock
Your kids need to reestablish their familial rock, and this is done through regular and consistent scheduling. Make a routine and parenting plan for as long out as possible, and then, stick to it. Avoid any changes if possible, and if there are conflicts, resolve them as soon as possible. You want to create an air of stability for your kids, even if that is not actually what is occurring.