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Guidelines for Successful Co-Parenting

By Jamie Berger, Esq.

Successful Co-parentingSo you have just finalized your divorce, and now you’re wondering how this co-parenting arrangement is going to work out. You’re aware that your immediate priority is to figure out the best way to raise your children, but you aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Divorces can be difficult, and in some cases, traumatic for children. The best approach to take to prevent this from becoming a slippery slope is to develop a great co-parenting relationship. Successful co-parenting is dependent on both parents following some co-parenting guidelines. The most important co-parenting guidelines include:

The child’s best interests are the top priority 

It might be difficult to get along with a former spouse, but the priority should always be the child’s best interests. You will be surprised just how easily the co-parenting relationship gets once you focus your actions on this simple principle that forms the basis for all co-parenting guidelines. It might be hard to cooperate with an unreliable co-parent, but it’s important not to place boundaries between your ex and your child as that parent is still important to your child. Let the child be the one to develop his/her judgments regarding both parents. It might seem unfair, but deviating from the co-parenting guidelines can undermine your long-term goals, and often should only be considered when a child’s safety is at risk. If you have questions, you should talk with an experienced family law attorney.

Maintain the same rules in both households

A difference in parenting techniques is one of the biggest causes of disagreements among many parents that haven’t set their co-parenting guidelines in place. This issue can be easily resolved if both parents are on the same page regarding the rules they intend to enforce. These rules will largely deal with the limits, freedoms, and ways of disciplining these children. No one likes to be labeled as the “mean parent” while your co-parent is lenient! Having such an agreement will prevent many unnecessary disagreements and also improve relationships between co-parents.

Steer clear of giving children false hope

More often than not many children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. These children end up viewing the possibility of their parent’s reunion as their chance at redemption. This feeling of guilt is a difficult topic for parents to handle, but one that parent should be aware lingers beneath the surface. Parents should also avoid promising their children that a reunion is imminent if there is no real prospect of reconciliation. If however,  all the issues have been resolved and you and your ex anticipate getting back together, by all means tell them the good news.

Develop a joint parenting plan

One of the more important co-parenting guidelines entails both parents sitting down to discuss how to handle all their responsibilities given the family structure or when changes to the routines require modifications to the schedule. If you can agree after a conversation with each other, that is the optimal solution. However, if there are differences of opinions, having a mediator present go along way toward  alleviating chances of tension escalating into an argument. A successful meeting will solve many issues that could be potential sources of conflict over the long haul. The more detailed the agreement, the easier it will be to maintain a successful co-parenting arrangement. A comprehensive agreement will address some of the following questions:

  • How many days in a week does each parent get to live with the child?
  • Who will my children spend the holidays with?
  • What are the rules regarding introducing a new spouse and how long will that take?
  • What are the rules regarding children and social media?
  • What are the rules regarding electronics, bedtimes, social activities, and school work?

Be honest with your children

Maintaining an honest channel of communication with children always helps to resolve any outstanding issues.  When it comes to divorce, trying to avoid talking about it can only undermine long term progress.  Parents should instead have a candid conversation with their children to explain to them why they cannot be together anymore in the simplest way possible. Being honest with children helps to alleviate their guilt and allows parents to apply the other co-parenting guidelines easily.

Eliminate negative talk about the other parent 

It’s very important to eliminate any negative talk regarding the co-parent in the child’s presence. Parents should make it clear to all relatives and friends that spend time with the child that they should not speak ill of the co-parent. A child should be the one to develop his/her perception of either parent despite any feelings towards the co-parent.

Having some co-parenting guidelines to direct your relationship post-divorce, will enable you to transition easily toward a less stressful life beyond divorce. Any outstanding legal issues should be referred to a reliable attorney who will ensure that they are all resolved. Individuals in New Jersey with any custody or parenting time issues are welcome to seek our services. For more information or to schedule an appointment, give us a call on 973-710-4366 or email us at info@jacobsbergerll.wpenginecom.

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At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.