Tips for a Better Co-parenting Relationship After Divorce

For couples with children, divorce does not end a relationship but instead changes its focus. Although they no longer relate to one another in the context of marriage, in order to provide the best possible care for their children, divorced parents must learn to forge a new relationship as co-parents. The following tips may help smooth the transition for divorcing parents and help them provide a stable, healthy environment for their children.

 

Foster mutual respect

 

Particularly in the immediate aftermath of a painful breakup, when divorced spouses may still be dealing with strong and difficult feelings toward one another, co-parenting can seem like a daunting task. However, regardless of what your feelings may be toward your ex, kids need a strong and loving relationship with both parents. Therefore, it is important to promote and encourage a strong relationship between your children and the other parent. Resist the urge to be competitive, and take care not to vent your frustrations or speak disparagingly of your ex in front of your children.

 

Communicate

 

Another important part of a successful co-parenting relationship after djivorce  is keeping the lines of communication open between yourself and the other parent. Communicating frequently and openly will help both parents stay in the loop about the children and help create continuity between households. In addition, regular communication between co-parents helps nip misunderstandings and miscommunications in the bud, preventing them from growing into larger conflicts that may be disruptive to parents and children alike.

 

It can be helpful to set regular times to touch base with a co-parent about things like school, homework, scheduling, holiday plans and health issues. If speaking face to face is too difficult, particularly at first, try touching base by phone, email or instant messaging. With time and patience, collaborating with your ex on parenting issues will most likely become easier.  See our blog on using Our Family Wizard as an effective tool.

 

Establish boundaries

 

As important as communication is for successful co-parenting, it is just as important for you and your ex to establish reasonable boundaries and show respect for one another’s privacy. Tempting as it may be, avoid grilling your kids for details about your ex’s personal life after divorce.  Also resist the urge to micromanage or criticize your ex’s parenting skills — even when he or she does things in a way that you would not choose. If you make an effort to choose your battles and keep things in perspective, your ex-spouse will be more willing to extend you the same courtesy.

 

Minimize conflict during the divorce process

 

Couples with children and others who wish to minimize the negative impact of divorce often benefit from a process known as collaborative divorce . Unlike traditional divorce litigation, which is fundamentally adversarial, collaborative divorce is based on cooperation and communication between the spouses, with a shared goal of reaching a mutually agreeable outcome. At the beginning of the collaborative divorce process, both spouses sign a contract that states they agree to resolve the divorce without resorting to litigation.

 

For couples who are interested in collaborative divorce but are not necessarily ready to sign a contract, cooperative divorce offers a similar solution. The process of cooperative divorce is essentially the same as collaborative divorce, except that the spouses retain the option of going to court as a last resort.

 

If you have any questions regarding divorce, please contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation or visit our website for more information.

Our Family Wizard: A Tool for Productive Communication Between Parents

While it is certainly the goal for parents to communicate amicably during or following a divorce, that is often not the case. Tools like Our Family Wizard (“OFW”) help accomplish productive communication, even when parties are unable to have effective communication directly. OFW is a user friendly program, available through a website (listed below), where parents pay $99.00 for a year subscription to the program, and then are able to set up their private communication webspace.

OFW has an “information bank” where parents can keep current on their child’s medical records and school records. The “message board” is a place where parents can type messages directly to each other to inform the other parent about activities the children may have, or placement schedules. Reminders may also be set on this program so that parents are notified of important events that are scheduled through OFW. Parents may also create an expense log on OFW, which can be used for example, to avoid the hassle of calling the other parent every time a bill is incurred that is court ordered to be split.

If you have an attorney, or there is a Guardian ad Litem appointed to your case, either of them may also view this communication. This is great for attorneys and Guardian ad Litem’s because it eliminates the “he said/she said” battle that often occurs in divorce cases, and holds each parent responsible for what they enter into the program. Further, the court has access to this information, so both parents are likely to keep all communication appropriate and productive.

More and more, courts are ordering parents to activate OFW accounts in an effort to avoid conflict and enforce healthy communication between parties. Courts typically use OFW as a “third party mediator” for parents who have trouble communicating with one another directly. However, even in less contentious cases, this program is an effective tool in keeping the parents organized and allows parents to resolve their issues on their own. It helps expose to the court parents who are not communicating well, and it highlights parents who are communicating effectively.

Although there are several other ways in which OFW is helpful, the most important, as a family attorney and Guardian ad Litem, is that OFW helps shield children from the divorce. The children have less exposure to argumentative telephone communications and seeing mean e-mails from one parent to another when all communication is done in one place that is password protected and for the parents, attorneys and courts eyes only.

Please check out http://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ofw to get more information about OFW and to find out what the program can do for you and your family as you go through your divorce.