When a marriage ends and kids are involved, it can be very difficult to navigate the ins and outs of the new relationship that must be built and maintained in order to successfully co-parent. These early difficulties, however, are worthwhile because they lead to stronger relationships between children and their parents and ultimately better outcomes for each member of the family.
Co-parenting arrangements are, with the exception of cases of abuse, regarded as the best custody outcome and the one that will most benefit children. The International Council on Shared Parenting affirmed this perspective in its six-point consensus statement.
An extensive study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that those who had been married before attempting to co-parent (as opposed to parents who were co-parenting their child but had never been married to one another) had a much more challenging start to co-parenting. The researchers believe that those who were once married likely had a more difficult separation, one that often involves legal battles, fights over splitting up property and money, and custody disputes. In the early months following a divorce, once-married couples can find it very difficult to cast off the shadows of those old roles in order to build a different relationship with their former spouse.
The news isn’t all bad, however. The study also found that as time went on, those who were once married actually develop better, stronger co-parenting strategies. Ultimately, the initial pain and anger that often follow a divorce will fade, but the mutual love and support for the children will remain.
The best strategy for successful co-parenting from the beginning is to understand that it may be more difficult at first when the emotional response to a divorce is at its peak. In order to combat these raw emotions and challenges, it’s best to have a firm plan for co-parenting that can be put into place without the need for ongoing disputes or negotiations.
If you have a solid co-parenting plan with clear guidelines for times, dates, and expectations, it will help take some of the pressure off those early days. Setting up these guidelines is an important part of getting your new co-parenting relationship off to a good start, and the experts at Hais, Hais & Goldberger are ready to help you navigate this new situation. Contact us today.