Co-parenting 101

Perhaps the most difficult part of a divorce or when a couple separates is deciding how the children will be cared for in the future. Child custody in North Carolina includes decision making authority regarding a child’s welfare (legal custody) and where a child will live (physical custody). The best case scenario is for parties to decide upon what type of custody arrangement will apply to their children. Regardless of whether a couple decides on custody for themselves or a Court decides for them, learning to co-parent is perhaps the most important step forward.

Co-parenting is a process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together. While co-parenting is a simple concept, in reality it can often be difficult to master.

The following are a few important tips to consider in learning how to co-parent:

Remember co-parenting is a process. Couples often believe they will easily be able to co-parent their children. For some, co-parenting is an easy transition after separation and divorce. For most, healthy co-parenting is an ideal goal with many bumps along the way.

Remember the kids come first. Families fall apart for a variety of reasons. When parents are dedicated to putting their children first, healthy co-parenting is possible. This may mean accepting a certain amount of flexibility in your custody schedule. This also means you need to take a “team approach” when it comes to parenting styles and the children’s routines.

Learn how to communicate. Learning how to communicate is essential for co-parenting. Deciding the best method of communication is also important. Is a phone call appropriate? Phone calls allow for fast communication where tone can be understood easily. Some couples, however, find phone calls with their former partner as an interruption to their lives or find conversations quickly turn into arguments and unhealthy conversations. Are text messages a better option? Texts allow for quick access, but tone can often be misconstrued and a frustrating text during the middle of the day is a fast way to turn a good day into a bad one. Are e-mails the best method for you? Perhaps a lunch or joint calendar for easy access to the kid’s events? There is no right answer to this question, but finding a healthy and appropriate means of communication is essential.

Kids hear and sense a lot more than you realize. Words cannot express how important it is for your children to hear you speak positively about the other parent. Your relationship together may have failed, but you can still be successful parents. Remember how important it is to tell your children how much the other parent cares about them. Make sure you, and other people around you, do not speak negatively about your former partner. The goal is to raise happy, healthy children.

Contact Cristina Quantock if you considering a divorce and want to make sure you are prepared.

About the Author: Cristina Quantock has been practicing in North Carolina for over ten years. Her practice includes both criminal defense and family law. She understands firsthand how emotionally draining it is when a marriage ends and is dedicated to helping her clients navigate this difficult process.
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