Separation/Divorce: New to co-parenting? How to reach an agreement and what to expect by Custody X-change

06/11/2019, 23:45:00

By Krishan Smith from Custody X- change

New to co-parenting? How to reach an agreement and what to expect



The agreement


Whether you have joint custody or sole custody, once you’re divorced and you’re prepared to share parenting responsibilities it is important to keep some things in mind.

Reaching an agreement is key and sometimes requires mediation or the presence of attorneys. Whatever the case, communicating and keeping communication open and flowing is vital to reaching a custody sharing agreement. Like anything it is give and take, you have to enter these types of negotiations with an open mind and a certain level of flexibility. Talking of flexibility you also need to leave margin for change and adaptation in your plan. A rigid plan is no use to anyone, changes occur, life happens.

It would be easy to turn a potential agreement negotiation into a shouting match full of accusations and petty arguments. Try and keep it civil and respectful. Remember the aim is to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of your child. They need supportive and relatively united parents. You have to set ground rules, guidelines and behavioural expectations you agree on and maintain in both houses consistently. You need to devise an extended and specific plan/schedule.

Sample parenting plans can help, you get an idea of how these schedules would be structured and what details you need to include. They need to be customized to reflect what you as parents have agreed upon in terms of how much time each parent will spend with your child etc. If you both separately design a parenting plan, once you meet you can compare and hopefully reach a compromise or create one together.


The consequences


Just like aspects of your ex’s personality annoy you, aspects of their co-parenting style and methods will also rub you up the wrong way. You have to accept this and learn to communicate your displeasure effectively. Discuss what’s troubling you whilst keeping your child the focus of your point.

Similarly certain things are going to make you feel bad in an altogether different way. Maybe you’ll start to resent the time your child spends away from you, obsess over what they’re doing or believe they’re having more fun without you. You may start to feel the situation is unfair. This is natural. However if you can’t deal with these feelings you need to at least shield your offspring from them. Avoid complaining in front of them. This includes complaining about money, talking about time splits/sharing with your ex or talking negatively about your ex in general. This will only result in your child thinking of themselves as a burden or source of disagreement and potentially warping their view of one or both of their parents.

If you’re the parent who doesn’t live with your child full time it can be easy to over spoil and treat them to compensate for you not being in their life as often. Guilt is never a good reason for action. Make sure you spend quality time with them, communicate well but also instil a sense of responsibility in them. Giving them whatever they want and showering them with gifts will not achieve this and will only harbour bitterness in your ex.


In summary


Don’t burden your child with adult issues, allow them to live a happy life with both parents, try and keep the discussions between the adults until your child is old enough to understand and wants to talk. Prepare to adapt and recognize that you will be challenged in the process of shifting to a co-parenting arrangement. While this article is by no means comprehensive it should give you a good idea of the processes involved and what to expect as a new co-parent.

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