Co-Parenting 101 is a guide on how two parents can navigate raising children together when the parents themselves are not a couple.
Be the better person.
Assume everything you say will be read in court before your parents, pastor, and mentors. Would you be proud of what you wrote? We’ve all been around someone who gets under the skin, but when it comes to your children – be the better person.
Child Custody is not about you.
This is about your child(ren). Now, more than ever your child will need stability. What a child needs may not be what a parent needs. Set aside your ego, all of the resentment and hurt, and give your child what they need. An agreement or order can give your child the stability they need. They will know what days they are with mom or dad, and with that assurance comes peace of mind.
Single parenting is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes secondary custody is all a 60+ hour a week parent can provide. Take a hard look at your schedule and be honest with yourself. What time can you devote to meaningful time with your children? Quality time over quantity is something to consider. Do not set yourself up for failure with a schedule you cannot maintain for the long run. If you find yourself trapped in a schedule you cannot maintain, it may be time to speak with an attorney.
Customize Your Schedule – Think Creatively.
Consider the age and personalities of your children, their extra-curricular activities and academics, the career and social commitments of each parent, travel distances between parents’ homes, and child-care arrangements. Some common schedules are week to week, Monday and Tuesday with parent 1, with Wednesday and Thursday with parent 2, and Friday through Sunday alternating parents.
Bad Spouse ≠ Bad Parent
Let’s face it, marriage and relationships take work. However, just because a person made a horrid spouse, does not mean they are a horrible parent. This can be one of the hardest mental hurdles to overcome, but your children need both parents. No one in the world will love your children as much as the two of you. Your relationship with your spouse may not have worked, but your parenting can still succeed. It’s important for the child to co-parent.
Find a Way to Communicate
Communication is key to any relationship – even if that is to purely talk about your children’s growth. Joint family calendars can help keep track of where the children will be and on what date. Written communication keeps an accurate accounting of everything, cannot be modified, and is a record of your communications that can be admitted in court, if necessary down the road.
Compromise & Pick Your Battles
Parenting is hard and dealing with an ex can add a tremendous level of frustration. However, in these instances, take a VERY deep breath. In fact, take many. Not every disagreement is a personal assault. Try to be as rational, level-headed, and realistic as possible. Things worth fighting for can differ in every case. However, some common instances are school choices, moves, vacations, and parenting time. When in doubt, seek counsel and follow your agreement or order.
Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust
Life happens. Unpredictable events will happen (COVID-19, deaths in the family, celebrations of life, marriage, family reunions, moves). Don’t be afraid to review your agreement or order and assess whether it is working for your children as they grow and come in to their own.
The lawyers at King Law in North Carolina and South Carolina can help you get a better sense of where you stand and offer legal advice to improve how you co-parent. We invite you to come in and talk with one of our attorneys in person during a consultation. Call 888-748-KING (5464) to schedule your appointment.