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Co-Parenting: Avoiding a Nasty, Costly Divorce War

When couples with minor children decide to divorce, it can lead to a costly, acrimonious battle over issues of custody, support and visitation. Many states, like California, require the parents to settle upon a parenting plan that includes who the primary custodian is, how the visitation schedule will be implemented and how the children’s various expenses and activities will be handled. If the parties cannot agree, then mediation is usually ordered followed by a court trial if no settlement is reached.

Parents have a financial obligation to their children but usually want to sustain a close relationship with them. If the parents cannot get along and pose a non-cooperative attitude, the children will suffer. It is best for both parents to set aside the past and to accept that you will have a continuing relationship with each other at some level for many years and joint cooperation in achieving what is in the best interests of your children benefits everyone. If you reside in the Pasadena area, then consult with a Pasadena family law attorney about potential issues regarding custody and co-parenting. The more information you have about the divorce process, the easier in planning for divorce and the less costly or acrimonious the process will be.

You can seek to achieve an effective and nurturing co-parenting relationship by following these 10 suggestions while planning for divorce or while it is proceeding:

  1. Avoid bad-mouthing the other parent in the child’s presence.
  2. Recognize and accept whatever custodial arrangement you have either agreed to or that the court has ordered. If you are still fighting for primary custody, behaving badly will only reflect poorly on you.
  3. Make your children feel at home in the non-custodial home by having their own rooms, setting it up as they wish, having their clothes there and maintaining similar rules in both homes regarding behavior and consequences.
  4. Allow your children to talk to the other parent at any time if they want.
  5. Allow them to continue any outside activities such as organized athletics or music or dance lessons.
  6. Routinely communicate with the other parent. If it is not working, seek a family counselor to help facilitate it. Both parents need to be included in the major decisions affecting the children.
  7. If your spouse insists on arguing and accusing you of things, do not engage with him/her. It will stop if you refuse to adopt the same attitude.
  8. Show your children that you and your spouse are getting along at certain events such as where your child is performing by sitting or standing close to one another.
  9. Accept that the divorce will result in a division of assets and debts as well as one parent having primary custody. Be flexible in compromising on asset and debt distribution and recognize that perhaps your spouse’s home is more desirable for your children or that primarily living there is in their best interests.
  10. Strive to maintain a friendly or at least a neutral attitude toward one another by avoiding certain topics such as finances or your boyfriend or girlfriend. Smile and compliment one another at times.

Co-parenting while a divorce is pending or after it is final is not the ideal scenario for your children but you can make the transition for yourself and your children much easier by compromise, maintaining a cooperative attitude and accepting certain realities such as which parent will have primary custody. If you do this, your divorce will be much less costly and without the animus that can disturb your children and affect their current and future emotional well-being and growth. When divorce is likely, talk to a Pasadena divorce attorney to discuss your rights regarding physical and legal custody and the benefits of a cooperative co-parenting situation.