Now that I have a custody order, how do I successfully co-parent?

Attempting to co-parent children with a person that you are no longer romantically involved with can be incredibly challenging.  Some people actually manage to be friends after a divorce or separation, but those people are rare.  Typically, there are a lot of bitter feelings left on one or both sides that prohibit this.

To co-parent successfully, both parents must be dedicated to making sure that the needs of the children come before the bitterness of the relationship.  If hostility exists, communication should be primarily limited to that affecting the children directly.  Information can be communicated, requests can be responded to, and events can be attended by both without need for conflict if everyone can keep in mind that their relationship with the other person is now solely limited to best meeting the needs of the children.  If parties can do this initially, the co-parenting relationship may become more amicable over time as the feelings from the breakdown of the relationship begin to naturally dissipate.

The Court requires that parties going through custody disputes attend a parenting class prior to a custody order being entered.  The purpose of this class is to remind the parties that their children have the right to a relationship with their other parent.  The parties should not seek to gain the children’s favor away from the other parent but, rather, should make sure that the children know that it is ok to love their other parent.

You will occasionally experience failures in your efforts to co-parent.  There will be circumstances that arise in which you will react in ways that you will later wish you hadn’t.  Chances are your children will occasionally witness hostile communications or be present for a remark that you shouldn’t have made in front of them.  The important thing is to minimize those moments as much as possible and reiterate to your children that they are free to have a loving relationship with their other parent.  If it continues to be difficult to do this, there are many books that have been written on the subject.  Therapy can also be helpful in this regard.

The goal of both parties should be to produce well-adjusted adults.  The best way to go about this is to put the trials of the romantic relationship behind you and focus on co-parenting your children through their childhood.