Parenting

Co-Parenting Through Separation and Divorce: Making Sure your Child Wins

Divorce and separation can be very tough on children. The ultimate goal of co-parenting is to strive to enforce similar rules and cooperate regarding the children. The key is to separate your marital past from your parental present and do everything you can to make the co-parenting relationship work.

By Julie Baumgardner

Karen’s son lied about his homework, so she grounded him from weekend activities. Her son was scheduled to be with his dad that weekend so she called her ex to ask him to honor the grounding. He refused, saying that was his only time with his son and he wasn’t obligated to fulfill her decisions. Karen was furious. 

Was Karen right to ask her ex to do this? Was her ex wrong not to honor her wishes? 

“The ultimate goal is to have Karen and Ted strive to enforce similar rules and cooperate regarding the children,” said Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily. “If you can achieve this level of cooperation, terrific, but the reality is, in many instances, they aren’t there. So, what we work toward is each household being autonomous, but sharing the responsibility for the children. Co-parenting does not mean sharing all decisions about the children or that either home is accountable to the other for their choices, rules or standards.” If you ever feel that the other parent’s actions are influencing your child in a bad way then you can consult with a child custody attorney so you know what your options are.

Probably the most important question one could ask in this situation is, “What do the children need from their parents?” 

“I think it is important for the parenting team to understand that following a divorce and divorce mediation, children live in two countries,” said Mr. Deal. “They hold citizenship in each country and are, therefore, invested in the quality of life found in both. The parenting team should do everything they can to help children thrive and enjoy each of their two homes. An old African proverb says, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Biological parents who fight and refuse to cooperate are trampling on their most prized possession- their children. Elephants at war are totally unaware of what is happening to the grass, for they are far too consumed with the battle at hand. Little do they know how much damage is being done.”  If you finally decide that the time to split up is finally here, handling a divorce can be quite emotionally disturbing and complicated. Experienced divorce lawyers will be able to get you through the process as fast and effectively as possible.

According to a child custody lawyer, there are some guidelines parents can follow to help their children move back and forth between their two homes as smoothly as possible. If you have made up your mind and decided to end your marriage, you should consult a divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer can help you throughout the divorce process and can assist you with your divorce case. Only an experienced divorce lawyer can help you in getting out of this situation and bring the case in your favor. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may contact a professional domestic violence attorney to assist you and plan the next legal steps. You can also do searching from a lot of sites to look for an efficient legal lawyer like Bob Bratt who will help you get some legal advice and complete guidelines that parents should do with their children. This guide can show you how to get a divorce or an annulment quickly.

  • Work hard to respect the other parent and his or her household. Make space for
    different parenting styles and rules as there are many healthy ways to raise a child. 
  • Schedule a monthly “business” meeting to discuss co-parenting matters. If there’s a history of abuse, especially a recent history, the court may order sole legal custody to the non-abusive parent. 
  • Never ask your children to be spies or tattle-tails on the other home. 
  • Children should have everything they need in each home.
  • Do not disappoint your children with broken promises or by being unreliable. Do what you say, keep your visitation schedule as agreed, and stay active in their lives. 
  • Make your custody structure work for your children even if you don’t like the details of the arrangement. (This topic is further explained by Jensen Family Law)

“I encourage ex-spouses to ask themselves this question, ‘Can you let your desire to provide the best situation for your child take precedence over your personal issues with each other?’” said Mr. Deal. “Give your ex-spouse the opportunity to be wonderful with the kids, even it he/she wasn’t wonderful with you. The key is to separate your marital past from your parental present and do everything you can to make the co-parenting relationship work. While parents may not be willing to share the discipline strategies of the other home, you should try to agree on how to approach developmental tasks of childhood such as potty training, taking responsibility for feeding a pet or getting their backpack to school with all the necessary materials for that day. If both households can support the training of the child then the child wins.”

If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you out with your divorce and custody issues, be sure to check out the updated texas divorce laws.


Biography: Julie Baumgardner is the Executive Director of First Things First, an organization dedicated to strengthening marriages and families through education, collaboration and mobilization. She can be reached at julieb@firstthings.org.

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