Dealing with co-parenting challenges during a divorce

Pierre Domercq Child Custody and Visitation

Going through a divorce can present many new challenges for anyone in California. This is especially true when efforts still need to be made to jointly juggle parenting responsibilities. Whether a divorce is amicable or contentious, the purpose of co-parenting is to keep both parents actively involved in their child’s life. When effective, joint parenting can contribute to children feeling they can turn to both parents for support and advice. The odds of succeeding with co-parenting often increase when both parents have a solid plan in place during the divorce process.
One option is to spell out parenting plans with an agreement between soon-to-be-exes. Such a plan typically includes a mutually agreed upon custody schedule; and it often stipulates how and where exchanges will be made, how decisions pertaining to the child will be decided, who will have custody during specific holidays, and how parents will communicate with one another. It can also be beneficial for both parties to allow some degree of flexibility with parenting schedules to allow for unexpected issues and emergencies.
Barring situations involving substance abuse or domestic violence, co-parenting is often the preferred post-divorce arrangement. This typically includes encouraging both parents to respect the child’s relationship with the other parent by not badmouthing or belittling their former spouse or using the child to send messages back and forth. If new co-parents feel overwhelmed or have difficulty communicating respectfully with an ex, therapy may be helpful to address feelings. Children may also feel more comfortable talking to a neutral party if they are experiencing issues with the co-parenting set-up.
An attorney might prove to be an important ally for parents going through the divorce process. If an initial co-parenting arrangement isn’t successful, a lawyer may attempt to negotiate an agreement modification to resolve issues and reduce the risk of minor disagreements turning into major conflicts. Conversely, when all involved parties are committed to making co-parenting work, such arrangements just might lay the groundwork for healthy, long-term parent-child relationships.