Co-Parenting During and After Divorce

Many parents choose to co-parent when they share joint custody of their child or children. This method of parenting makes children feel secure and can add consistency and structure back into a child’s life after a divorce. However, even the best parents can have a difficult time co-parenting effectively after a divorce.

Sometimes, the key to effective co-parenting is as easy as changing your frame of mind. First and foremost realize that while your marriage or relationship was about you and your former spouse, your new post-divorce relationship is solely about your child or children. Whatever happened or didn’t happen in the marriage likely has no place in your co-parenting communications. If it helps, try to look at the situation with almost a professional tone – your job is to raise a healthy and happy child, and completing that job effectively means you need to communicate with and spend time with your former spouse. Try to keep conversations polite, respectful, and about the children. Never put your children in the middle of your problems and don’t use them to send messages; if you need to communicate with your former spouse, make sure that you do it.

Co-parenting, as with any relationship, takes work and dedication, but the end result is worth it.

Staying Married for the Children

So many couples put off divorce until their children are older, truly believing that once their children are adults themselves, the parents will then have the freedom to get a divorce without ruining their children’s perfect, married-parent childhood. However, this is not usually a good idea.

Children are pretty good at sensing emotions of the people that they are close to. Parents may be thinking that they are putting a good show on for their children, but many times, their children can tell that their home is not a happy one. This can be confusing and frustrating for children, especially if the parents act like everything is okay, since the children may feel that things are not okay, but their parents are telling them otherwise.

Children also may miss out on witnessing what a real, loving relationship looks like. They may grow up thinking that their parents are in love, but if what they see from their parents is anger, coldness, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, etc., they may erroneously believe that that is what love is. This puts the children at a disadvantage when they are trying to establish their own relationships.

Many times, divorce can bring relief to all members involved. Children could feel more secure if things are settled and they are kept updated (appropriately for their age level). Plus, they will certainly notice that mom and dad are happier apart, and therefore, likely better parents.

Marissa McGill

Focusing on the Children

Family law issues influence children tremendously, and recently, the legal system has begun to realize that. The best interests of the children now have a primary focus in family law proceedings. Many law schools have even chosen to offer classes that focus on family issues from the perspective of the child. The result is a new generation of attorneys who understand, to the best of their ability, that children need to be prioritized during a proceeding.

Of course, there are sometimes other participants in the proceedings that focus on the children, even more so than the parents’ attorneys. These participants include a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) and Court-Appointed Special Advocates (“CASA”), who are court-appointed specifically to represent the best interests of the child. These participants typically get to know the child to better understand their situation, their perspective, and can be a valuable asset when the court is trying to decide what is best.

Family law issues are tough on children, but if all of the parties work towards the same result, there is a good chance that it can be a more positive experience for the child, and possibly, all parties involve.

– Marisaa McGill