Divorces are as unique as the couples involved. Some will be loud, angry and contentious court battles. Others will be respectful separations where the couple no longer wishes to stay married but remains committed to a happy and healthy upbringing for their children. In the latter case, collaborative co-parenting is a viable option that provides many upsides to the entire family.
Tips for making it work
It’s nice to think that a divorce will be a seamless transition with little disruption, but it still takes work to make it work. Essential issues to focus on include:
- A thorough parenting plan: This outlines in writing all the obligations on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. It says where the kids spend Christmas on even-number years, and it says that dad picks up kids on Wednesdays and Fridays from school. It can even outline how to handle birthdays and how grandparents can be involved.
- Communication: No matter how much planning goes into the parenting plan, life has a way of presenting unanticipated problems that need to be quickly solved. Parents need to be in contact via phone, text, an app, or occasional check-ins face to face. Constructive interaction should be civil and non-judgmental. This can help foster a team spirit where the family’s interests are the priority.
- Do not sweat the small stuff: Different houses may have different rules about clean-up, homework, take-out food, or screen time. It is okay as long as the parents agree on more significant issues like schooling, religious upbringing, medical care, punishment, or other priorities.
- Do not disparage an ex in front of the children: Regardless of how you feel, it is best to keep criticism between the parents. This avoids negatively influencing the parent-child relationship (either the critic or the one criticized).
- Stay connected: Communication is often vital for changes in schedules, but have a Google calendar, divorce app, planner or another platform that tracks appointments, teacher’s meetings, daycare as well as pick-up and drop-off if mom is out of town, or other scheduling. It avoids panicked calls, forgotten pick-ups and resentment for missing important events.
Each situation is different
Families work differently, so a co-parenting arrangement for one family may not work for another. The parents and their attorneys should discuss priorities and options to determine workable solutions that are in the best interests of the children but also work for the parents. Those with questions can talk with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney who handles divorce here in North Carolina.