Co-Parenting: Putting the Child First
When you and your spouse separate or divorce, you both have experienced a loss. Regardless of why it happened, it is natural to feel sadness, anger, resentment, and regret. Unfortunately, these emotions often manifest themselves in unhealthy coping behaviors and children often get caught in the middle. However, as hard as this separation is hitting you, always remember that your children’s sense of security has been shattered. Your children need both of their parents to put them first.
While easier said than done, there are numerous ways that you can make this transition better for the children:
• Try to reach an agreed custody plan.
A long, contested custody dispute is a recipe for an unhappy child. There is fighting, uncertainty, and sometimes inappropriate tactics that parents use to try to win. Ideally, you can reach an agreement that accounts for: (1) who has been the primary caregiver of the children; and (2) allows for ample visitation for the other parent. In circumstances where parents communicate very well, there are even joint custody arrangements where parents have 50-50 time with the children.
• Allow the children to resume some sense of normalcy.
This means letting them stay in the same home, going to the same school, participating in the same activities, and seeing their friends.
• Try to find commonalities.
Take a strength-based look at your children’s other parent and acknowledge good parenting traits and shared values. While it may be difficult to give a complement to your ex, it is to your children’s benefit that good parenting is acknowledged and encouraged.
• Don’t argue in front of the children.
Continued arguments can cause lasting psychological damage to the child at a critical developmental stage. If you cannot stop arguing, establish healthy boundaries, such as a trusted third party transporting the children or exchanging the children at school.
Whether addressing the children directly or having a conversation in their presence, this is immature and emotionally destructive.
• Spend time with the children and don’t impede visitation with the other parent.
It is in your children’s best interest to continue to have a relationship with both parents. Your problematic relationship with your former spouse should not interfere with the children’s relationship with their other parent.
• Read books, watch videos and speak with other parents.
Or consider individual or family counseling. Other people have gone through this experience. Talk to people to find creative ways to harmoniously co-parent your children. Just because your relationship did not work out, it does not prohibit you both from being fantastic parents.
If you are separating or divorcing and have children, call us. For more than seventeen years, New Direction Family Law has represented clients in all areas of family law, including child custody and divorce. Our team also has an extensive history in advocating for the best interest of children and we want to help you and your children move forward. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call our team today at (919) 719-3470 for a consultation, or visit us online at our website.
Meet the Author: Elizabeth Stephenson
Elizabeth has extensive experience in a range of different family law legal proceedings, including mediations, arbitrations, litigation, and appeals. She is the person you want by your side when you’re facing divorce, separation, child custody, property division, domestic violence, or any other family law issue. She understands the emotional upheaval and stress experienced by families facing separation and divorce. Using expert knowledge of North Carolina family law and 17 years of practice in the field, she is dedicated to providing steadfast support and guidance to each and every client.