During separation and divorce, co-parenting is a common struggle for many parties. Getting into an initial rhythm and groove is difficult, and there may be periods of time wherein civility and conflict ebb and flow.

Here are some basic guidelines for co-parenting that lawyers generally like clients to follow in anticipation of litigation:

Communicate with the other parent.

The first step to co-parenting is communicating effectively and politely. Pertinent matters regarding the children should be communicated within twenty-four hours, unless a medical emergency occurs, then communication should occur as soon as possible.

Communicating in writing is recommended to track what was communicated when. That said, each family functions differently, and if phone calls work better, go with what works best.

Communication is simple to implement and a good place to begin improving if communication is currently suffering. A co-parenting counselor may be necessary if you are unsure how to begin improving communication.

Consider the child’s best interests.

If you are unsure what the right decision is when faced with a particularly unique co-parenting problem, carefully consider what action would be in the best interests of your child. Sometimes this will require a personal sacrifice and be something that you really would rather not do, but if it is in your child’s best interests, you should do it anyway.

Do not withhold the child from the other parent.

While one of the most difficult parts of the dissolution of a marriage is not having your child in your custody, it is imperative for the child or children that they maintain their relationship with their other parent. If you believe your child will be unsafe in the other parent’s custody, contact The Hopkins Law Firm to discuss the matter in further detail.

Support the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Encourage the child to reach out to the other parent daily via telephone, facetime, text message, etc. Ensure that the child has free access to communicate with the non-custodial parent.

Support the child’s education.

When the child is in your custody, ensure that any schoolwork is completed. Communicate grades, and what subjects are the child’s strengths and weaknesses to the other parent. Coordinate arranging a tutor if necessary.

Support the child in extracurricular activities.

Always take opportunities to ensure that the child feels support by both parents during extracurricular activities and events. This could mean attending an event, game or recital and sitting near the other parent so that when the child looks over they easily see both of you there supporting them. This also prevents your child from losing focus on their event, as they will not have to search the audience to find both parents.

Be mindful during adult conversations.

Should you discuss any other adult matter such as separation, divorce, custody, support, or the other parent, be mindful of any child’s proximity and ability to overhear the conversation. Further, ensure that third parties do not discuss such matters in the presence of the children to prevent these matters being inadvertently communicated to them. Even if your child is not in the room, if another child is, consider that this child might communicate to your child what was being discussed.

Do not undermine the other parent.

Some parties may choose to institute the same rules in both of their homes to provide consistency between households. While you do not have to do that unless you want to, it is your duty not to undermine the other parent. Be cognizant of the way you communicate with your child regarding their other parent’s rules to maintain respect and a positive relationship between all of you.

Co-parenting positively is always important for the sake of the children involved, however, it becomes crucial when litigation is on the horizon.

Michelle Hopkins and her team know that every family has unique needs and they are ready to help you with yours. The Hopkins Law Firm team has experience with initial determinations of custody and modifications of existing custody arrangements. Please call 571-248-2210 to make an appointment to discuss your child’s custody today.

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