A divorce or separation can create a lot of stress for everyone involved, and if children are a part of the picture, it is not an easy task to keep it together in front of them through the process. For that reason, it can be a relief when the divorce or end of the relationship is final. When that time comes, though, another challenge awaits—the challenge of co-parenting.
While it may seem hard to realize at the time, co-parenting does not have to be difficult or stressful. One way to avoid the complexities of co-parenting is by communicating up front about how things will be handled. Once ground rules are in place, it can make each parent feel more comfortable about the arrangement. To help someone in this situation think through what topics they should discuss with their ex up front, we have included some ideas below:
- Discuss Communication Channels
If each parent agrees how they will be communicating—such as via text, phone call, email, or another platform specialized for co-parenting—they will feel more at ease because they will know what to expect. For example, if it is hard for someone to talk to their ex on their phone, and they are expecting to hear from them about their children’s upcoming arrangements, it might save them some stress if they know they will be hearing from them via text, instead.
- Agree on the Frequency of Communication
It might be beneficial for both parents to decide upon a frequency to talk on the phone or meet in person so they can finalize their plans. Every family is different and has their own schedule. For some, their schedules may stay the same for months at a time, while for others it might change weekly. Perhaps one family has children in multiple sports and their schedule is more hectic than another family whose children do not participate in extracurricular activities. It is most important that parents decide what is best for their family as a whole and agree upon a communication schedule for their family’s specific needs. Plus, as stated earlier, if it is already discussed how and how often they will be communicating, their minds might be able to relax a bit since their expectations will already be set.
- Decide What Personal Details Will Be Shared
This topic, if not talked about up front, can create conflicts and extra stress because it is not easy for someone to know their ex’s personal details. Due to this, parents should decide what personal details they want to share with each other and try to abide by these rules as best as they can. Some parents may want to know who the other parent is dating while others may only want to know those details if the other parent’s new partner will be around their children.
RELATED: Read about these 5 tips for divorcing parents.
- Make it Clear Which Events Will be Participated in Together or Separately
Each parent might have a different expectation when it comes to events, so it is important to talk about this topic before it becomes an issue. Will both parents attend their children’s sporting events together or will only one parent attend each event? Will both parents be present at the children’s birthday parties, or will they each have a separate celebration for the child? What about the holidays? There is a lot to consider here, but it can be decided upon up front to avoid conflict.
- Keep Your Children’s Feelings in Mind
When parents agree on these boundaries for their co-parenting relationship, they should first keep their children in mind and consider their feelings, wants, and needs. Making sure that the children are taken care of should be the most important goal on each parent’s mind when having these discussions.
For information about what our experienced attorneys at Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby can do to help you, or if you have concerns about your co-parenting situation, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.
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