Dealing with child custody and visitation disputes can be stressful. The outcomes of these matters can dramatically change the amount of time you get to spend with your child, which might not be in his or her best interests. Yet, in many cases the truth of the matter is that neither parent is going to be able to spend as much time with the child as they did when they lived together as a family unit. Oftentimes, this causes parents to fight for as much time with their child as possible. While this could be beneficial for all parties involved, it could also be detrimental to the child, particularly when you can’t work together with your child’s other parent to co-parent.
Co-parenting is critically important, though. Successfully doing so can lessen the impact of divorce and custody changes on your child while at the same time fostering healthy relationships. It can also provide your child with a sense of stability during what could otherwise be a very tumultuous time in their life. That being said, we understand that co-parenting can be challenging, especially when personalities and history wriggle their way into discussions about custody and parenting. There are certain things you can do, though, to help foster cooperative co-parenting.
One of them is to focus on communication. Without effective communication, arguments will arise and parenting time can be affected, both of which can have an effect on your child. So, if you’re having trouble co-parenting or are worried about what co-parenting will look like, consider these communication tips:
- Avoid making demands: Try not to demand to see your child on certain days, as that creates a hard tone that can be off-putting to the other parent. This can shut them off to your request and lead to visitation spats. Instead, think about making requests in question form.
- Don’t overreact: There are bound to be times where your child’s other parent upsets you. He or she may even push your buttons intentionally simply to get a rise out of you. Don’t play into it. It might be hard, but keep your focus on what is best for your child without getting riled up by what the other parent says.
- Focus on your child: This might sound like common sense, but all too often parents shift their co-parenting conversations away from their child and toward their needs. Stay focused on your child and what arrangements are best for him or her. Encourage the other parent to do the same.
- Seek the other parent’s opinion: Doing so let’s the other parent know that you value his or her input. This can start your co-parenting talks off on a strong footing so that future discussions can be built upon cooperation and validation.
- Apologize when you’re wrong: Figuring out child custody and visitation can be challenging. It can present issues on a daily basis that you have to problem-solve on the fly. It’s normal to get something wrong. By admitting fault and apologizing, you continue to build a trusting relationship as it pertains to your child. This fosters a strong co-parenting arrangement.
- Don’t sweat the minor details: Things won’t always play out according to plan. The other parent’s visitation might run over occasionally due to no fault of the other parent, or special outings with the other parent might take longer than expected. While you should certainly discuss these matters in a cordial manner, don’t blow up over it. Again, that communication style will only lead to more conflict that can bleed over into your relationship with your child.
These are just a few tips pertaining to one aspect of co-parenting. Successful co-parenting takes time, patience, energy, and a lot of practice. While following certain steps can lead to success, sometimes it simply isn’t possible. So, if you’re having issues with your child custody and visitation arrangement, then it might be time to reach out to a family law attorney.