What is the legal definition of co-parenting? Co parenting is a process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together. In a co-parenting situation there will be a co parenting agreement. An agreement between both parents to assure that everyone involved with raising the children adheres to similar values and works towards the same goals.
Unless there has been domestic violence or substance abuse, co-parenting is the best way to ensure that all your children’s needs are met and enable them to retain close relationships with both parents. Research suggests that the quality of the relationship between co-parents can also have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of children.
Joint custody arrangements can be exhausting, infuriating, and riddled with stress, especially if you have a contentious relationship with your ex. Concern about your ex’s parenting abilities, worries about child support or other financial issues, constant conflict, or struggling to overcome resentments left over from your relationship can all take a very real toll. Making shared decisions, interacting at drop-offs, or even communications with the one another in general can seem like impossible tasks. It is possible however, and necessary for the sake of your kids, to overcome co-parenting challenges and develop a cordial relationship with your ex.
The key is to separate the personal relationship from the co-parenting relationship. Acting in the best interest of the kids is your most important priority. Be a mature, responsible co-parent by always putting your children’s needs ahead of your own personal agenda. You can accomplish this by:
- Separating feelings from behavior. Sure, you are hurt and angry, but your feelings don’t have to dictate your behavior. Working cooperatively with the other parent is what’s best for your children. Let this motivate your actions.
- Don’t put your children in the middle. Compartmentalize your feelings of resentment and bitterness about your break up. They are your issues, not your child’s. Never use kids as messengers. Using your children to convey messages to your ex puts them in the center of your conflict. Keep your issues to yourself. Don’t say negative things about your ex to your children or make them feel like they have to choose.
- Improve communication. In all methods of communication, the following can help maintain effective communication. Set a business-like tone: Speak or write to your ex as you would a colleague. Use respect and neutrality in your messages and conversations. Make requests: Statements can be misinterpreted as demands. Try using things like, “Would you be willing to…? Or “Can we try…?” Show restraint: Communicating with each other is something you’re going to have to do for their entire childhood. You can be intentional about not overreacting to your ex. Over time you can become numb to the buttons they try to push.
In the end if things become too toxic. Seek the help of a reputable family law attorney to help you navigate the difficulties and make decisions as to how to proceed in the best interest of your children. Call us now to schedule your free consultation. At Dodge & Vega, PLC we believe you should never have to pay a fee for an initial consultation: 480-656-8333.
Additional Resources include checking out Arizona Family Laws including but not limited to the rule on Parenting Plans which specifically deals with co parenting issues. The text of this rule is below for your consideration:
A. If the child’s parents cannot agree on a plan for legal decision-making or parenting time, each parent must submit a proposed parenting plan.
B. Consistent with the child’s best interests in section 25-403 and sections 25-403.03, 25-403.04 and 25-403.05, the court shall adopt a parenting plan that provides for both parents to share legal decision-making regarding their child and that maximizes their respective parenting time. The court shall not prefer a parent’s proposed plan because of the parent’s or child’s gender.
C. Parenting plans shall include at least the following:
1. A designation of the legal decision-making as joint or sole as defined in section 25-401.
2. Each parent’s rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training.
3. A practical schedule of parenting time for the child, including holidays and school vacations.
4. A procedure for the exchanges of the child, including location and responsibility for transportation.
5. A procedure by which proposed changes, relocation of where a child resides with either parent pursuant to section 25-408, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling.
6. A procedure for periodic review of the plan’s terms by the parents.
7. A procedure for communicating with each other about the child, including methods and frequency.
8. A statement that each party has read, understands and will abide by the notification requirements of section 25-403.05, subsection B.
D. If the parents are unable to agree on any element to be included in a parenting plan, the court shall determine that element. The court may determine other factors that are necessary to promote and protect the emotional and physical health of the child.
E. Shared legal decision-making does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.
We are here for you. Hopefully your co parenting relationship doesn’t need the help of an attorney, but often they do. Call us and we will schedule your free consultation: 480-656-8333.
Brandi Collins, Dodge & Vega PLC
Dodge & Vega PLC founded by Ben Dodge, attorney at law. Ben owns and manages a law firm of Affordable Arizona Family Law, Personal Injury, and Bankruptcy Lawyers. He is a nationally certified trial attorney, entrepreneur, endurance Athlete, and extreme Ultra Cyclist.
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