Dealing with a child custody dispute can be stressful and overwhelming. And although you may feel a sense of relief once the court issues its initial custody order, you may quickly find out that the matter isn’t necessarily put to rest. After all, disputes can quickly arise over parenting styles and concerns in each parent’s household. In some instances, this leads to additional litigation that can be time-consuming, worrisome, and costly.
Fortunately, there are proactive steps that you can take to try to reduce the conflict with your child’s other parent and avoid the need for additional formal legal action. Although effective co-parenting may seem impossible in your circumstances, we encourage you to try each of the following to see if it can ease tension and lead to a more productive relationship:
- Focus on effective communication: A lot of conflict in co-parenting relationships stems from poor communication. If you’re struggle to have effective and efficient communication with your child’s other parent, then consider trying new methods of communication. For example, if phone calls quickly escalate to verbal disputes, then consider using email or text messages as a primary form of communication. Find what works for you and stick to it.
- Keep records: Although you should hope for the best co-parenting outcome possible, you also should anticipate that your disagreements may end up in court someday. Therefore, it’s a good idea to document all visitations, including date and time, as well as missed visits or promises that aren’t lived up to in regard to time sharing.
- Try to give your kid some routine: Children need routine. Without it, their lives can feel chaotic, which can lead to a host of mental health and behavioral issues that you’ll want to avoid. With that in mind, you should diligently work with your child’s other parent to develop a consistent schedule that is predictable. When scheduling conflicts arise, you should try to address them early on so that you can give your child some time to prepare and adjust. Keeping a shared online calendar can be a helpful tool here, too.
- Remain professional: Far too often in co-parenting situations individuals let their emotions get the best of them. This can further deteriorate the relationship when hurtful statements are made. An abrasive approach can also throw up obstacles to effective communication and scheduling.
- Resolve disagreements in private: Remember that your child is very observant. So, getting into an altercation in front of him or her can be really damaging. To avoid causing any trauma to your child, try to resolve all disputes with your child’s other parent in private.
- Try to be positive: As hard as it may sound, try to share positive information about the other parent with your children. Remember, your children love their other parent, so talking badly about him or her may backfire and cause harm to your relationship with your children. By being positive, though, you can build your co-parenting relationship and ensure that your children remain as happy as possible. Of course, if there are legitimate safety concerns with your children being in their other parent’s care, then you’ll need to address that directly rather than ignoring it or painting it as something other than what it is.
Seek the help that you need to protect your children
In the end, co-parenting is about building a relationship that ensures that your children’s best interests are protected. It’s a major endeavor, though, and one that can be complicated and overwhelming. But there are strategies out there that can help you successfully navigate the process in a way that protects your children and reduces conflict. When those techniques fail, though, you may want to turn to an experienced family law professional for assistance.