I know nothing about co-parenting, because I don’t co-parent. However, I think it’s important to be versed on the subject should it come up down the road. I asked 3 experts to share some advice. This will be a reoccurring topic, so keep reading, as co-parenting with an ex can be nothing short of blissful, to, let’s face it: A sh*t show.
Come To A Custody Agreement
My legal custody agreement with JD’s dad is pretty typical of our situation. Since he left when I was pregnant and we weren’t married, I filed for sole physical and legal custody. In short, I’m in charge of JD’s life and his dad has a legal right to visit. His dad didn’t object to this arrangement and I welcome visitation. If he wants to change this agreement he’ll have to prove why our son is better off with joint custody after five years of his unmistakable absence.
Now, if you and your partner divorce, but agree to share custody this means you’re opting for joint physical custody. “The child is with one parent for part of the time and with the other parent the remaining time,” advises Celeste Liversidge, Family Law Attornry. “Custody arrangements can vary wildly, but in this common kind of setup, it’s usually the mother who has the children the majority of the time,” she says. Remember to respect the agreement, because this will avoid confrontation with your ex and help to maintain a healthy balance in your child’s life.
Use Technology To Everyone’s Advantage
Ideally, it’s great if you and your ex live near each other, because then you can both play a physical role in your child’s life. However, if one of you lives too far for daily or weekend interaction (my case), consider Skype. If you both have iPhones, set up a time for … Face Time. I’ve mentioned this to JD’s dad … but was ignored. Oh well—I put it out there.
If your ex is willing to communicate using technology, great! It allows two people to see each other while chatting and gives your kiddo a chance to show off his art work, or a silly face. “This is a great comfort to a child,” advises Deborah Ledley, Psychologist and author of The Calm Mom. “Just be sure to work out a schedule so that your child and his parent have a set time and date to talk—treat it like physical visitation in that you give your child and his parent privacy.”
Think Twice About Hanging Out As A “Fam”
According to Dr. Leah Klungness, co-author of The Complete Single Mother there are pros and cons when it comes to hanging out all together. “Kids derive comfort and reassurance from seeing both parents together. Both parents are showing, not just telling the kids that mom and dad will always love and be there for them.” However, tread lightly. “All kids have ‘reunion fantasies’ and hope beyond reason that their parents will get back together just like in the movie Parent Trap, so casual meals or time together may make it harder for kids to adjust to the realities of their parents’ separation.”
My takeaway: It’s case by case. I personally know an awesome single mom who carpools with her ex-husband to their son’s soccer games and has no problem swapping weekends if he wants a romantic few days away with his new girlfriend or vice-versa. To the contrary, my other single mom friend gets emotional and anxious when her ex is around, so that’s not good for their 5-year-old son to see. Go with your gut, guys!
Tell me about your co-parenting situation
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