The following is a guest post by Tim Backes who is the senior editor for Custody X Change, a custody calendar software solution.
There hasn’t been any reimbursement for the posting of this article–but anything that helps co-parents peacefully negotiate a custody calendar sounds like a good idea to me! 🙂
You and your ex may have had a fantastically amicable split. Or, it may have been a knock down drag out war. No matter the case, it’s in the best interests of your children that your post-split relationship is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Here are a few ways to make that possible.
3 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship
Even when you and your ex had a friendly split, as your time apart grows, attitudes and personalities can change. Understanding that from the beginning can help you in the future.
Plan for the Future
Depending on the age of your children when you decide to go different ways with your ex-spouse, your legal co-parenting relationship could be a very long one. Regardless of the assumed length, getting things right at the beginning minimizes potential problems as your relationship changes.
At the start of your new relationship you will have to create a parenting plan to show the family court how the two of you plan to raise your children while not living together. It’s extremely important to put anything and everything that matters to you in writing.
From where your children will spend their holidays to what school districts they can live in, you want to be as detailed as possible. It’s much easier to hash out the details up front than to fight about missing details after the fact.
Be Reasonably Flexible
A custody calendar is important, but it’s not sacrosanct. Life is very unpredictable. For the sake of keeping a co-parenting relationship friendly, when your ex-spouse needs to change a date or a time, you should consider working with them instead of stonewalling them if possible.
Many co-parents with instantly challenge the request. But, if it’s a reasonable request, it only makes sense to try and help. Unnecessary friction, no matter how minimal, can build up over time until a once friendly relationship becomes a toxic one.
The key to all of this though is to be reasonably flexible. You don’t want to let your ex-spouse walk all over you. But, random and reasonable requests should be considered for the sake of keeping things civil.
Transparently Keep Details Records
When working within a contract, which is exactly what a parenting plan is, hard records are your best friends. You should keep every receipt any time you spend money on your children. And, you should keep records of all your emails and text messages you trade with your ex-spouse.
While the records themselves are valuable, the true value comes in letting your ex-spouse know how diligent you are about keeping tabs. It’s a friendly way of letting them know they won’t be able to pull any nonsense as you have everything clearly recorded if needed for future reference.
One of the biggest keys to keeping your co-parenting relationship healthy as time moves forward is to create a solid foundation right from the start. You want to spend a lot of time to create a very well thought out parenting plan. You want to keep good records and let your ex know you are doing so. And, you want to work with them when unexpected situations arise.
If you follow these three tips, you’re sure to have a better chance at maintaining a smooth co-parenting relationship than if you hope for the best without a proper strategy in place.