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Successful co-parenting after divorce: Difficult but worthwhile

Our last post focused on common financial mistakes people make when going through a divorce. These are behaviors that, while understandable and tempting, are usually counterproductive and could result in an unfair divorce settlement.

If you have kids, the struggle with your ex may not end when the divorce is finalized. Courts are increasingly awarding joint custody when possible. While this outcome is often good for children, it can be stressful and frustrating for two former spouses who now have to find a new way to interact with one another.

The good news, if you find yourself in this situation, is that countless other divorcees have come before you. Many are eager to share what they've learned about the dos and do-nots of co-parenting.

Communication mistakes are some of the most frequent ones you may face: what you say to your co-parent and what you say to your children. In order to be an effective co-parent:

  • Do not ask your children to deliver messages to their other parent, especially messages that are likely to elicit an emotional reaction
  • Do not ask your children to take sides or to make choices that feel like taking sides
  • Do learn to communicate with your co-parent in the most efficient and peaceful manner possible, including calls, emails and text messages
  • Do not criticize or badmouth your co-parent in front of your kids
  • Do not argue with your co-parent in front of the kids
  • Do not use your kids as leverage or a bargaining chip in disputes with your co-parent
  • Do set a good example on how to take the high road if/when your ex violates any of the tips listed above

Successful co-parenting may not happen right away. But with some time and patience, you may be able to develop a co-parenting relationship that is peaceful, productive and healthy for the entire family.

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