As difficult as separation and divorce may be, perhaps the most difficult part occurs when all of the third parties previously involved in the divorce process are gone and you are left alone to co-parent with your ex spouse. For some, co-parenting comes naturally and amicably. For others, the experience is more contentious. The good news is, there are practices you can implement to make co-parenting easier for you and your ex spouse, which in turn will make life easier for your children. Here are 4 things you can do to make your co-parenting experience a success:
Avoid the idea that “fair” equals 50/50
Tons of articles and TV shows project that the fairest outcome to a child custody case is a 50/50 split. This may not always be the case. If your children are used to being home with dad in the afternoons because mom works longer hours, perhaps what’s fairer to your children would be letting them keep that time with dad (as opposed to going to daycare because it’s technically “mom’s time”.
Getting your children’s input and disrupting their schedules as little as possible is as fair as any 50/50 agreement!
Only discuss one issue at a time
Any separated or divorced parent knows that at any given moment there’s a bevy of issues to discuss with the other parent. However, trying to bring up a multitude of issues at one time magnifies the likelihood that a disagreement or argument will break out.
Limit discussions to tackling one issue at a time, then move on to the next.
Always put the children’s best interest first
This goes hand in hand with rethinking the “50/50 equals fairness” idea. Take care to identify whether or not you are making a decision or requesting something from the other parent because YOU want it, or because it’s what’s best for the children.
This also applies to how you speak about the other parent when the children are in earshot. Be mindful to voice frustrations or complaints about the other parent when they are in school or out of the house. They love their other parent just as much as they love you, and putting them in a position to hear you downplay their other parent could damage your own relationship with them down the road.
Plan ahead as much as possible
Planning time with the kids ahead of time, especially if it deviates from your current custody agreement is the best way to maintain positive relations with your co-parent. Oftentimes, especially around the holiday season, there is cause for the children to be somewhere outside of their normal schedule. It could be that they are in a holiday program at mom’s church, or baking cookies with dad and his side of the family. No matter what the cause, identifying these special circumstances ahead of time and allowing some flexibility in your arrangements will allow your children to keep their traditions and keep relations between you and the other parent positive.
All legal matters are pressing, but few are as important as the ones that involve your children. Put these important issues in the hands of an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney. For questions and concerns regarding your child custody case, Bedlam Law can help. Contact us here or call (405) 232-2444 today.