The importance of civil co-parenting after divorce

Divorced parents must find ways to co-parent, even if the divorce was particularly contentious.

While some couples are able to divorce relatively easily, not every Virginia divorce is amicable. Sometimes, spouses can barely stand being around each other without tempers flaring. Such divorces are often highly contentious, and can drag out for years.

Unfortunately, when children are involved, it isn't possible to simply cut all ties and never see one another again. Even after the marriage ends, as co-parents, you'll always have a relationship. The key is learning how to do that peacefully.

The task may seem daunting - even almost impossible in some cases - but there are ways that you and your former spouse can learn to put your children first and set aside your differences for their sakes.

Successful co-parenting following a divorce or separation

Co-parenting begins before the divorce is even final. During the dissolution process, it is important to keep your children's best interests at the forefront. This will help set up a custody and visitation (also known as "parenting time") schedule that works for the whole family. After that has been done, it must be implemented, though.

In order to help your children thrive following a divorce, family psychology experts recommend the following tips to make for a more successful co-parenting experience:

  • Realize that the relationship you have with your children's other parent affects your children. Divorce is strenuous enough for kids, much less having to continually witness discord between their parents over minor issues, such as where and when to meet to exchange custody.
  • Try to disengage your personal feelings from your co-parenting relationship. As much as possible, keep the focus entirely on your children; it is good for their mental health as well as your own.
  • Unless domestic violence, substance abuse or criminal activity is an issue, there are proven benefits to giving children ample time with both parents, even after divorce. If the primary caregiver for the child limits access to the other parent, children can suffer developmental delays, compromised mental health and lingering health problems.
  • Try very hard to not argue in front of the children or speak negatively (calling your ex names, etc.) about their other parent. Even if you still harbor negative feelings, resentment or anger, do your best not to let that show.
  • Communication about schedule changes, holidays, events and the like should happen between you and your former spouse: don't use the children as a go-between.
  • Never try to "pit the children" against their other parent in the hope of gaining their favor. Parental alienation has extremely negative consequences on the children in the long run.
  • Try to limit discussions with your former spouse to issues pertaining to your children only. Avoiding other topics may help keep stress levels low.

If you are going through - or you have gone through - a contentious divorce, it may be necessary to reframe your thinking about your spouse in order to have a successful co-parenting relationship. For guidance through a divorce or legal separation proceeding, reach out to the Richmond law offices of Bowen Ten Cardani, PC. Call us locally at 804-767-6850 or toll free at 866-601-7371, or send us an email.