Of all the enquiries regarding legal advice for divorce, child custody and co-parenting are usually top of the list. Making the transition from couple to co-parent can be tough and can lead to disagreements and even legal wrangles.
In this article, we’re looking at the five parenting styles that you should embrace following a separation.
- Good Communication
No matter what the circumstances of your divorce were, communication with your former spouse is essential for making co-parenting work. Find a method of communication which works for you both, whether that’s telephone or email, and keep that communication civil and constructive when discussing childcare.
- Consistency is Key
Following your divorce, both your life and that of your ex might change and, while that’s to be expected, your child’s day-to-day activities should remain as normal as possible. This means establishing consistency for the child which is applied in both homes.
For example, routines such as bedtimes and homework are to be kept the same in both households. Maintaining routine across both homes will help the child feel more secure as well as minimise the risk of the child trying to play one parent off against the other.
- Sticking to Original Plans
When co-parenting it is necessary to put in place arrangements for factors such as visitation rights, school events and medical appointments. It’s understood that your life is busy, but so is your former spouse’s. Moreover, it’s important for you both to do your best to stick to the arrangements that have been made in order to avoid resentment and conflict.
This means avoiding changing plans at the last minute or swapping and changing visitation times and dates. As well as unsettling your child, failing to stick to arrangements can escalate quickly resulting in the need for a child arrangement order or other court-appointed measures.
- Focus on Flexibility
In our last point, we spoke about the importance of sticking to agreed arrangements, and while this is always good practice, it’s also important to remember that unforeseen things happen. While it may be annoying when your former partner asks to change their visitation day on short notice, bear in mind the fact that it works both ways and that you may want to call in a favour at some point too.
Doing your best to remain flexible can really help to foster a more cooperative style of co-parenting and help to avoid conflict which may upset your child. It’s also important to remember that your child’s needs will change as they get older and so getting in the habit of practising flexibility will stand you both in good stead in the long run.
- Maintaining a United Front
When a child’s parents divorce, it can leave them feeling insecure and unsettled as their life is quite literally split in two. While some division is inevitable, the reality is that you and your former spouse are still connected via your child. In order to make your child feel as secure as possible, it’s important that the two of you present a united front in front of them.
You can do this by always keeping conversation neutral and pleasant and, if you can bear it, spending time together – even if it’s just a cup of tea and a chat during handover. Children are often quick to pick up on hostility and therefore showing that the two of you can get along will help your child to feel less anxious about the divorce. It’s also important for both parents to speak to the child about the divorce and to answer any questions.
Doing it for the Kids
Ultimately, the primary objective for both parents should revolve around the child’s wellbeing. Achieving this goal may require some compromise between both you and your former spouse. This means working with your former spouse where possible to make sure that your child’s life is as normal and as stress-free, and this can only happen through good communication and mutual cooperation. It won’t always be easy, but by joining forces, you should be able to reach a level of co-parenting that works for everyone involved.