Trying to raise children together in two separate households after the end of a romantic relationship is a major challenge. It is quite common for Florida parents to find themselves embroiled in disputes and struggling with the sudden change in their relationship. This tension can, understandably, make the whole experience more difficult for kids whose parents are having a tough time adjusting to co-parenthood.
Yet, co-parenting is a legally-required arrangement in all but the rarest of cases, so adults have to find a way to work with one another for the benefit of their children. The four tips and tricks below can help make the transition to co-parenting smoother and less stressful for all.
1. Embrace written communication
Direct verbal communication is a challenge for the average couple adjusting to co-parenting after cohabitating and raising their children as a unit. What should have been a brief check-in about someone’s hockey schedule or math test turns into a screaming match in the driveway.
At least at first, communicating almost writing is the best option. Written communication, possibly through a parenting app, means that there is a record, which can stop people from saying cool and threatening things to one another. It also means that they will be a record of all plans and adjustments that people can reference in the event of disagreements or confusion.
2. View them as a co-parent, not a former partner
It will not benefit the parenting relationship or the children for the parents to maintain this intense, high-conflict dynamic. Once parents decide to end their relationship with one another, they should start trying to view each other as co-parenting partners and a source of support rather than someone they need to fight.
3. Be flexible to benefit from flexibility
Often, parents adjusting to time-sharing arrangements engage in malicious compliance where they follow the parenting plan to the letter and deny any requests for adjustments. Scheduling changes and other compromises will have to occur frequently throughout a co-parenting relationship. Being hostile and inflexible when a parent makes a request only means that someone will likely face similar levels of hostility and opposition when they need to make changes.
4. Know when to make formal changes
Parenting plans don’t always align with what a family needs. Job changes, health issues and even kids moving on to high school from middle school can make an existing arrangement obsolete. Going back to court for a formal modification is important not just to avoid conflicts but to ensure that the support order is also an accurate reflection of the division of parenting time.
Recognizing some of the challenges that your family will face as you transition from a romantic relationship to a co-parenting relationship will make it easier to prevent conflicts from spiraling out of control. If, at any point, you have questions, just remember that you can always seek legal guidance. You don’t have to wait until something has gone wrong to speak with an attorney.