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Developing a Co-Parenting Relationship Is Challenging for Everyone

Going through a divorce is always difficult, and it can be even more challenging when children are involved. After your divorce is settled and you've arrived at child support and custody agreements, you must begin the long journey of learning how to effectively co-parent with your ex. Even in the best of circumstances, this process is stressful and painful. As you begin navigating what it means to be a parent post-divorce, you should consider setting boundaries and expectations with your ex. When you are making your parenting plan, you and your ex will likely outline some parenting expectations and responsibilities. You may also have a custody order that outlines specific co-parenting boundaries and provisions. However, once these plans are put into practice, you may find that you need even more structure.

Keep reading for six tips on setting boundaries with your co-parent.

Tip #1: Utilize Online Parenting Tools

Many apps and websites offer interactive tools to help parents stay organized and facilitate their co-parenting relationship post-divorce or separation. From shared calendars to communication portals, these tools can help you and your ex stay organized and on the same page. Popular co-parenting platforms include Our Family Wizard, WeParent, and Coparently.

You may find it beneficial to limit your communication to written-only or isolated to apps like these in high-conflict situations. In some cases, judges have even mandated that parents keep their communication on these platforms. Many of these programs were designed specifically to facilitate post-separation parenting relationships and co-parenting boundaries.

Tip #2: Consider Emotional Boundaries

After a divorce, it can be hard to know what is appropriate to share with your co-parent and what isn't. However, now that you are no longer together, your personal life is just that, personal. You are not obligated to share your personal life with your ex, and neither are they. Try to keep your conversations limited to parenting matters, especially at first. While it's natural to be curious, you want to avoid getting into personal conversations as this may be a fast was to break co-parenting boundaries. Oversharing can trigger a lot of emotions that can harm your co-parenting relationship.

Tip #3: Be Flexible & Ready to Communicate

As your new relationship as co-parents develops, boundaries may fluctuate. It will take time for you both to figure out what works best for your family and where boundary lines need to be drawn. For example, you may initially be uncomfortable meeting your ex's new dating partners, but over time may change your mind and wish to be introduced. Similarly, you and your ex may initially agree that you will not be connected through social media, but they may change their mind and ask for access to the kids' pictures.

Being flexible and open to communicating with your ex can help you maintain a healthy, effective co-parenting relationship. While you are willing to discuss adjusting a boundary or expectation, this doesn't mean you have to agree to change established boundaries. Instead, focus on understanding where the other parent is coming from and finding a mutually beneficial solution to the issue. Overtime, your co-parenting boundaries may change, and that's okay, just remember to continue setting boundaries so that there is a clear and open line of communication.

Tip #4: Be Kind to Yourself

The co-parenting process is not an easy one. Many clients have told us that they have found working with a therapist or family counselor helpful. Taking care of your mental health is an important part of co-parenting, and you deserve to have support. A therapist can help you better understand your personal boundaries and how to protect them while going through a divorce and learning to co-parent. This will help you set realistic and healthy co-parenting boundaries.

Tip #5: Don't Compare Yourself

Every family has a different dynamic. You should avoid comparing your family to others, especially those on the internet. It is natural for people to want to put their best face forward, and you never really know what is going on inside another family. Because of this, you mustn't compare yourself to other parents. Just because something works for them doesn't mean it will work for you. There is nothing wrong with this! Instead, focus on what works for you and your family. Remember, there is no one answer to co-parenting and setting boundaries.

Tip #6: Reach Out to a Lawyer if You Need Legal Help

Sometimes, parents find that their custody agreements or parenting plans are inadequate for their families. As time goes on, things change, and you may need your original court orders modified. When this happens, you need to work with a skilled attorney. Mitchell & West LLC has helped many families navigate the post-divorce process. Contact our office if you need help with child custody or other family court order modifications.