Co-parenting Pro-Tips: Litigation & Beyond
- by Danielle Montalto-Bly
Co-parenting. It’s not always easy, but it is manageable. And with the right tools, you and your children can help the benefits outweigh the difficulties of a two-household family. Here are a few tips to set you in the right direction:
Put the children first. Most parents believe that their children are their number one priority, but this can be tested when going through immense change and grief, all while under the microscope of the Court. This is often elevated by the fact that children are empowered with an attorney and an opinion, which may be a hard pill to swallow. However, challenging your child’s opinion or punishing them for saying something contrary to your desires is an easy way to upset your judge and hurt your kids. Instead, put yourself in your children’s shoes. This is an extremely difficult time and giving them the power to be heard can be very therapeutic. Allow your children to speak freely without judgment or anger. Regardless of your feelings toward the other parent, speak kindly, be accommodating and take the high road. Don’t use the children as messagers and do not punish the children for speaking truthfully. This will not only protect your children from long-term damage, but also help you win your case.
Figure out a method of communication and stick to it. I generally suggest that communication between co-parents take place through text message or email (if you receive messages to your phone). First, the communication should be in real-time, to avoid any delayed reactions that inconvenience the other parent. Second, putting your words in writing memorializes details like exchange times or locations, that could otherwise become confused. It also gives you an opportunity to read and edit your messages, thereby helping to avoid emotional or irrational exchanges. Last, if there are any court filings or allegations down the line, having a record is the best way to clear up he said/she said.
The more people who love your children the better. When your children have multiple adults who love and care for them, it means they have more safe havens from the stress of life, more people to open up to and more people to teach them important life lessons. It may open them up to talents, activities and travel that they otherwise would not have been exposed to. It can also provide parents with a much needed break from the challenges of parenthood. Some time apart from your children can help you re-energize, recuperate and return to your kids with your best foot forward.