If you are getting a divorce and you have children you have probably already discussed co-parenting with your spouse and your attorney.
Co-parenting is sometimes looked upon with uneasiness or even fear for the following reasons:
- Anticipation that there will be too much control by the other parent.
- Fear that “I might do something wrong” (get visitation dates wrong, say the wrong thing at a school event, etc.)
- “I don’t want to interact with my ex-spouse at all”
You can feel more at ease by remembering the following:
- You are doing this for your children, not yourselves. You can set your boundaries, just be sure to do so calmly, and rationally. Remember, your spouse is learning to deal with a new situation too. Try to speak to your spouse the way that you want to be spoken to, and never berate your spouse to, or in front of, the children.
- Your legal documents are your guide. Although this is new to you both, you should keep a copy of your temporary orders, or mediation agreement (if the divorce is pending), or decree (once the divorce is final) handy so that you can see the specifics when you need to
- Even if you don’t want to interact with your ex-spouse, you’ll have to for many years. When your children become adults, you are likely to see your ex at major events. And you’ll have court orders that you both need to follow, even if you wish it weren’t so.
- Look to the future. If you “take the high road” now, you’ll never have to worry about your children coming to you as adults and asking, “why did you always put my mom down in front of me” or “remember when you used to say _________ about my dad? Well, that hurt me!”
If you have a potentially harmful or dangerous situation (one that involves domestic violence or sexual assault of yourself or your children), co-parenting may not be appropriate for your situation. If this is true share the details with your attorney early on so that the Judge can make specific orders that are good for the children, while keeping safety in mind.
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