You and your ex-spouse were able to work out a custody and visitation agreement and put a parenting plan in place. You envisioned that you two would be able to successfully co-parent your kids across your two households. However, your co-parent isn’t cooperating in this new relationship. What are your options?
First, it depends on just how serious their lack of cooperation is. Are they abiding by the terms of your agreement, but perhaps engaging in passive-aggressive behavior? Maybe they don’t make sure that your child has packed all of the toys, electronics and clothes they need to bring when they return to your home. Perhaps they always seem to “forget” to help them with their school projects or make sure they do their homework, so that burden always seems to fall on you.
Those things can be highly frustrating. However, if your co-parent repeatedly fails to pick up or return your child when they’re scheduled to, takes them on out-of-state getaways without telling you or does something else that violates the terms of your custody agreement, that’s another matter. You and your attorney may have to go to court to get them to comply.
If your co-parent is still operating within the parameters of your agreement but doing nothing to foster a healthy co-parenting relationship, don’t fall into the trap of responding in kind. If you keep a positive attitude, refuse to let their actions and words trigger you and remain courteous and cooperative, that attitude may rub off on them.
If your co-parent is refusing to adhere to the terms of your custody agreement or if you aren’t able to communicate amicably with one another, you may want to consider what’s known as “parallel parenting.” Typically, with this arrangement, parents communicate only on a shared online platform rather than directly. That means no phone calls, texts or emails.
Parallel parenting generally isn’t the best option for the child unless there’s simply no way their parents can have a more traditional co-parenting relationship. Sometimes, it’s necessary only in the initial post-divorce period when emotions may still be raw.
If you’re having repeated and serious problems co-parenting with your ex, and you haven’t been able to resolve them, talk with your family law attorney to determine what your options are. Remember that your priority needs to be the well-being of your child.