For some formerly married couples, co-parenting isn’t one of the easiest things to accomplish. It can be very complicated and confusing – especially if you are new to the process. Based on my experience as a Bergen County and Monmouth County New Jersey family lawyer handling many child custody cases, I have sometimes watched married couples going through a divorce and enforcing co-parenting practices wreak havoc on families. However, it does not have to be this way for you. There are a few ways you can demonstrate healthy co-parenting practices, which are described below:
Have Clear Boundaries
Before schedules are set and co-parenting duties take place, communicate with your former spouse. Describe in full detail what your boundaries are and verbalize non-negotiables. If you prefer that your child(ren) don’t eat dairy products, watch television past a certain time, or go out on a school night (for example), make sure those boundaries are clearly understood. Also, if you prefer an actual phone call, instead of a text message from your ex regarding your child(ren), be sure to discuss how important that is to you. It might help to develop an agreement for the two of you to sign, just to ensure that everything that’s discussed is upheld.
Respect Each Other’s Rules
Be mindful not to undermine each other’s rules while your child is under your supervision. Whatever boundaries and non-negotiables mentioned previously should be honored. You may have had differing parenting styles while married, but now that you’re divorced, it’s even more important to honor each other’s rules. By doing so, it results in cultivating a healthy environment for children to thrive in. Just as you would expect your rules to be regarded, make it a point to respect your former spouse’s parenting style – no matter how much you disagree with it.
Keep Children’s Need First
As a mother, I can certainly attest to how critical this is. Nearly every decision you make has to involve the needs of your child(ren) and their well-being. Healthy co-parenting means to place their happiness over your own and look out for their best interests. It also means to compromise, remain cordial with each other, and communicate effectively. Set your personal feelings aside and always consider what’s best for the children.
In conclusion, there have been cases where co-parenting did not work out as planned due to miscommunication, disrespect, and neglecting children’s needs. However, this doesn’t mean that you will fail at co-parenting. I don’t expect you to get it 100% right all of the time, but through implementing the information mentioned above, you’re on the right track to developing healthy co-parenting habits for your family to abide by.
This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.