Many courts prefer to award joint managing conservatorship because it allows children to maintain a relationship with both parents. However, this arrangement can present many challenges to parents who have ended their marriage.
Continuing to collaborate with an ex-spouse may not have been the post-divorce situation you imagined, but successful co-parenting can have many benefits for your children, such as feelings of security, better problem-solving skills and better mental and emotional health. Although you and your ex-spouse may not be on the best terms now, there are three steps you can take to help your children receive as many of the co-parenting benefits as possible.
Keep your children’s needs in mind
After divorce, you may want to stay as far away from your ex-spouse as possible. However, if you have kids, this may not be realistic. While you may still be hurt or angry about your divorce, it is important to set those feelings aside, so you can put your children’s needs first.
Never vent about your divorce to your children, use your children as messengers or badmouth your ex. Talking about your frustrations can be cathartic, but a trusted adult or therapist may be a more appropriate confidant than your children. Keeping parental conflict away from your kids can be one of the best things you can do to help them cope with your divorce.
Find a way to communicate with your ex
To co-parent successfully, you and your ex must find a way to communicate effectively about your children. If you and your ex had an amicable split, you may have few problems sharing information about your children in person or on the phone as needed. However, many divorced couples benefit from some communication routines and boundaries.
Generally, it is best to avoid sharing details about your personal lives, and opt instead for a business-like tone and topics focused entirely on your children. You may also consider using forms of electronic communication, like email or text message, whenever possible. Electronic communication allows you and your ex to review your messages before sending them, which can help minimize conflicts. These forms of communication also keep any possible parental conflicts away from your children.
Aim for consistency
Most children benefit from consistency, especially times of change, like during a divorce. To help maintain consistency between homes, consider working with your ex to find rules and routines that you can both agree to maintain. For example, you may both agree that your children must complete homework as soon as they get home, or you might agree to a specific drop-off routine. While you and your ex will probably not agree on everything, maintaining consistency where possible can help develop a more cohesive and predictable set of expectations for your children.
Although joint conservatorship may not have been your preferred custody arrangement, it is probably the arrangement that is best for your children. To help your children get the most out of the experience, consider what steps you might take to make sure their needs are put first, communication with your ex is effective and consistency is preserved whenever possible.