On behalf of Janet Boyle of Boyle Feinberg Sharma posted in Child Custody on Thursday, January 7, 2016.
For Illinois parents, divorce isn’t the end of their relationship with their ex, but rather the start of a new one built around raising their children together while living apart. Some parents find this new arrangement fairly easy, but others resist, choosing court fights over cooperation. However, parents who quickly set aside resentments and choose to work together do the most to help their children adjust to the divorce.
An essential step to making co-parenting work is for parents to view their ex as a parenting partner. Successful co-parenting revolves around the well-being of the child, not around past marriage problems. Keeping co-parenting relationships strictly focused on the children can reduce resentments and make the process run more smoothly. To that end, when schedule changes or other problems need to be worked out, approaching the conversation with solutions instead of blame can defuse irritations and lead to quick conflict resolutions. Even if the other parent is difficult or accusatory, it is best to try to calmly resolve the underlying issue instead of being baited into an argument.
It may be necessary for co-parents to set boundaries if one parent is having difficulty staying focused on the children. It is okay for one parent to tell the other that they will only discuss certain topics and stick to it. Boundaries can also include things like communication times and methods. Overall, it is important to keep in mind that everyone has bad days and every conversation with a co-parent won’t go well. Just keep trying, and remember that successful co-parenting is in the best interests of the children.
Many parents find it helpful to work with an attorney as they negotiate child custody and visitation agreements. Legal counsel could also help arrange parenting plans that establish post-divorce boundaries and rules.