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Co-Parenting Tips: What’s Best for Your Kids

Published on November 23, 2013 7:37 PM EST
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Divorce is often hardest on the kids. However, you can make it easier by working together to co-parent your children so that the impact of divorce is minimized and they maintain consistency in their lives.

Studies show that when divorced parents get along better and work together to serve the needs of the child, the kids adjust better and suffer far less from anxiety and depression. Some tips on how best to co-parent with your ex-spouse are detailed below.

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Be Specific and Put Your Co-Parenting Plan in Writing

Even though your divorce decree may include some details on joint custody, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer and drafting an official co-parenting plan, so each party knows what their responsibilities are and the acceptable methods of communication, decision-making and interacting with the kids.

By putting things in writing if one parent drifts from what was initially agreed upon, you have some legal recourse to keep things stable.

Decide on Custody That Benefits the Kids, Not the Parents

Divorce law requires that one parent; usually the one without physical custody pays child support. The state child support orders are mandated by the government and is not optional. There are serious legal consequences for not paying child support. When getting divorced either through mediation or the court system, a support order will be filed with the family court division. Once it is approved, the parent responsible for child support must start paying on a regular basis.

There are a few types of custody both legal and physical. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and what parent they spend time with. The choices are sole custody or joint where the responsibilities and benefits are shared. Legal custody refers to decision making in regards to the child’s wellbeing, daycare, education, health, and other lifestyle choices. Visitation schedules are also hammered out before the divorce is final.

Put Your Feelings Aside and Try to Get Along For the Kids

Having a long history with someone can make it almost impossible to control your feelings when you are around them. However, if you try to remember it is no longer about what they did or you said, it is only about what is best for your children, it will be easier.

Remember kids are like sponges and they see and hear all, so even if you think you are covering up hurt or angry emotions, your children can probably still sense them. For the sake of everyone’s well being, try to forgive and forget and let go of the past.

Keep the Kids Out of It

One thing you never want to do when co-parenting is put your kids in the middle of a disagreement. Divorce is stressful enough for kids, especially for children with autism spectrum disorders; they don’t need to feel your anger, hurt or disappointment towards your ex-partner. Never, ever speak badly about your ex to your kids. They are a combination of both of you and will feel that you are also putting them down. Bad Mouthing your ex around your children, only hurts you, it never hurts the other parent.

Instead, try to stay neutral and show the kids that you and your co-parent are working as a team and you respect and support each other.

Improve Your Communication with Your Ex

Communication during the marriage might have been tense, and the divorce proceedings could have made it worse, however, again you need to think about how your communication with your ex, affects your children. Try to keep the lines of communication open and update each other regularly about events that occur when each of you has the children.

Stick to the Plan

If at all possible, try not to disrupt your kid’s schedule if you don’t have to. It will cause them anxiety, and it may upset your co-parent causing further issues. You both decided on a plan that works for everyone so try to stick with it. If emergencies come up, work with your co-parent to find a positive solution that minimizes any impact on the kids.

Whatever you can do to work together to make sure your kids are happy and healthy is the only goal you need to worry about.

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