FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-03-28
For years, parenting techniques after divorce were fairly limited. The custodial parent, almost always the mother, had sole responsibility for raising her children. Now, both parents can contribute to the upbringing of their children through co-parenting.
Co-parenting occurs when spouses divide parenting roles equally or nearly equally. This means that the noncustodial parent is responsible for more overnights with their children and more everyday tasks like shopping, involvement in extracurricular activities and homework.
Co-parenting sounds like a dream to most parents, but can be difficult after a split, especially as if there is acrimony between spouses. Co-parenting will only work when there is open communication and cooperation between spouses.
Tips to Successful Co-Parenting
Spouses interested in co-parenting after divorce can follow a few simple tips to help the process go more smoothly. First, co-parenting works best for ex-spouses that live relatively close to each other. This helps the non-custodial parent participate in the everyday activities of his or her children. It can be difficult for a parent that lives at great distance away from his or her children to be responsible for extracurricular activities during the week.
Efficient, effective scheduling is also important to successful co-parenting. Visitation schedules should account for the distance between the two spouses’ homes and balance parents’ time with their children with adult time. It may be wise to plan how weekends and weekdays will be divided between the parents.
A rather sensitive topic that is also important to co-parenting is the difference between the economic situations of the two spouses. It is easier for parents—and children—if the living situations of both spouses are similar. If there is a dramatic difference in economic situation, children will easily pick up on it and be sensitive to it. Noncustodial parent should remember that child support guidelines are the bare minimum for supporting the child economically.
As children enter adolescence, it is important for co-parenting spouses to discuss certain sensitive topics. As teenagers gain more independence, issues about driver’s licenses, cars, cell phones, dating and even body piercings become a priority. Parents need to communicate with each other to determine what each is comfortable with for their children and the approach that each parent will take when addressing these concerns. Cooperation and communication between ex-spouses is especially important during the teen years to establish boundaries and consequences.
Co-parenting is hard work and requires communication between ex-spouses, but can be rewarding for parents and beneficial to children. To help facilitate co-parenting with your ex-spouse, please contact an experienced family law attorney.