Barber Law

Minimizing conflict in your co-parenting relationship

No co-parenting relationship should have nearly constant conflict. However, many people who go through high-conflict divorces find that their co-parenting relationships get off to rocky starts.

Other separated or divorced couples may have amicable, positive co-parenting relationships — until something changes. Perhaps a new significant other enters the picture or one of the kids goes through a difficult period. This can cause considerable conflict.

If you're committed to building (or rebuilding) a good co-parenting relationship, you need to forge a base of cooperation. Let's look at some things that can help you do that. Some might seem pretty basic, but they're important. Others require a little more work.

Recognize sources of conflict and have open dialogues about them. All co-parents have trigger issues that create most of their problems. Maybe you have different attitudes towards discipline. Perhaps one of you is always running late when picking up or returning the kids. Working on these areas first can help keep your conflicts over these things from spreading into other areas.

Use terms that reflect the teamwork of co-parenting. Terms like "our children" and "family" are important. So is "co-parent" (as opposed to "ex"). Even "please" and "thank you" are important to remember. These phrases can help you maintain a positive attitude about your co-parenting relationship.

Focus on finding solutions rather than blaming. Blaming is easy to do, and maybe it's your go-to response after years of problems with your former spouse. However, it won't solve the problem at hand. Focus on the solution and be open to your co-parent's suggestions.

Remember the importance of apologies. Sometimes, just saying "I'm sorry" can go a long way to diffusing a situation. Recognize when you've hurt or inconvenienced your co-parent, even if that wasn't your intention. Be willing to accept apologies from them as well so you both can move on.

Sometimes, co-parenting conflicts can be resolved by adding more details to the parenting plan or even making changes to the custody and visitation agreement. If you decide that modifications will improve your co-parenting relationship — and, most importantly, help your kids — your family law attorney can help you.

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