The best way to improve coparenting is to communicate. At the end of every parenting time, let your ex know what happened. Send a quick email or text message, anything in writing, and tell them what happened.
Did you go to the zoo? Did your toddler hit a new milestone? Did your teenager get assigned a school project? You can also send her pictures or videos of what you and the children are doing. Help mom feel included in your parenting time.
You can also set up an annual meeting where the two of you talk about how things are going and what you can do to improve your coparenting relationship. Knowing that you and your ex will have a time to get together to go over the situation and have an opportunity to air any grievances could help avoid future litigation. Just remember, do not say anything that you would not want to be brought up in court!
Finally, just let it go. The past is in the past, and it does no one any good to bring it up again. Let things roll off your back and try not to take everything personally. It may be difficult, but you will ultimately feel much better if you are not consumed with your ex’s every wrongdoing.
One of the biggest parenting mistakes that guys make is to stop coparenting when the other parent refuses to co-parent.
If a court order says joint custody, both parents are under an obligation to co-parent, and where I practice and in many states, failure to do so puts her in contempt. If the separation is recent and a court order has not yet been entered, both parties have joint custody by default.
If dad is taking the high road, communicating openly and trying desperately to share the benefits and burdens of parenting with mom, the judge will focus his anger on mom if she is failing to meet dad half-way on custodial decisions, obligations and time.
In this scenario, dad may end up with primary or sole custody by taking the high road. Also, most third parties and Guardian ad Litems will favor the parent with a more cooperative attitude and spirit in their evaluations and testimony.
Mom may think she can make unilateral decisions, but the worst thing you can do is to sleep on your rights by letting her. The court may view this as apathy rather than exasperation. You have to keep sending texts, calling and e-mailing requesting visits.
If you disagree with mom’s decisions about school, medical treatment or other major decisions, let her know your disagreement but also offer a well-researched alternative that you feel is in the children’s best interests.
There is a website called Our Family Wizard that we often recommend people use. The site is designed specifically for divorced parents and includes a messaging system and sharable calendars so that parents can keep communications all in one place and can easily see information about the children’s activities.
This helps parents who have coparenting concerns by eliminating the need to speak to each other regularly and by keeping communications in a written format that can easily be referred back to if necessary.
In our most difficult cases, we sometimes have parents working with a co-parent counselor who helps the parents talk about their communication styles and assists them in finding ways to better communicate and make decisions about their children.
My quick tips on how guys can improve coparenting during and after a divorce include the “be’s” and the “stay’s:”
Be polite — Manners go a long way, even in a divorce. Say “please” and “thank you.” The kinder you are to mom, the easier your life will be.
Be on time — This goes for everything, including child support, parenting time and schools events. Be someone everyone can count on.
Be respectful — Say nice things to the kids about their mom. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, then just be courteous. Kids can read between the lines of you aren’t nice and can have a negative effect on them down the road.
Stay calm — The process of divorce and after can be stressful. Exercise. Take deep breaths. The more you can stay relaxed during the process will help you cope with any challenges that this new style of parenting will bring.
Stay child-centered — Your children are the most important people in the world. Think about how your actions affect them. Act accordingly.
Stay positive — The future will be brighter for you and your kids. If today is difficult, focus on tomorrow. Remember, you’re a great dad, and even great dads go through struggles.
It is normal to feel like coparenting is impossible with your wife or ex-wife. After all, that is probably part of the reason why you are not married. However, you cannot let that interfere with what is most important – your kids.
Do not let emotions get the best of you. Make a pact to never put your children in the middle of issues, and do not make your children be the messenger for you. If you and your ex-wife have trouble communicating, then emails or other web-based coparenting sites are extremely helpful tools.
Try to keep your messages short and to the point. A joint-calendar can also be helpful because each parent can write in important dates for the children, whether it is a doctor’s appointment, soccer game or upcoming test.
In order to improve coparenting during and after a divorce, the parent needs to constantly remind himself that the children’s best interests are of paramount concern at all times.
If this is a consistent thought of the parent, in all likelihood, the majority of unnecessary interaction with the other parent will fall to the wayside because it is not promoting the best interests of the children. This can be difficult in divorce for obvious reasons.
Divorce is a very emotional and sometimes traumatizing event in a person’s life. There is generally some level of anger towards the other spouse over what went wrong in the marriage or how the divorce is going/how it went. The key is to remember the children are innocent in all of this and that their lives during and after the divorce process can only improve if the parents achieve a healthy coparenting style.
Often in cases where there is high conflict and an inability to co-parent, the court assigns a majority of the blame on one party and that party can jeopardize his or her custodial time.
Reminding oneself that any expression of discontent with the opposing party when discussing affairs of the children (unless custody-related) can potentially threaten their custodial time should be a good way to keep the parent focused on the children.
First and foremost during a divorce action with children involved, a guy should make all attempts not to move out of the marital residence away from the children. The best way for a guy to have a strong claim for more parenting time is if he is living with the children.
If he moves out, it is much harder for the guy to establish as much parenting time as he could if he were living in the marital residence or where the children are living.
If that is not feasible, then a guy should make every effort to show proof he is constantly contacting the mother to see his children and attempting to communicate with his children throughout the divorce process.
When there is a pending divorce and custody action in Tennessee, both parents have certain rights, such as the right to unimpeded telephone conversations with the child at least twice a week at reasonable times and for reasonable duration; the right to be given at least 48 hours notice, whenever possible, of all extracurricular activities and other activities as to which parental participation or observation would be appropriate; the opportunity to participate in or observe them, among others.
I tell my clients to keep a calendar of the dates and times that they have called, emailed and/or texted the mother and the children to ask about them or attempted to spend time with them so there is proof that a guy is trying to improve his coparenting time.
Guys should keep track of everything, and in more than one way. Buy an old-fashioned, handwritten calendar and keep detailed notes.
Write things like what you did with the kids — what time you picked them up, why and when mom denied you time, when you took the kids to soccer practice because she had to work late, etc.
Also, keep track in other ways, such as taking pictures with the kids (rather than just of the kids) and taking them to doctor’s visits so that you’re listed as the parent that brought them. By keeping good records, you are protecting yourself and your kids just in case she ever tries to say something that is not true.