Establishing a successful co-parenting relationship after divorce

While co-parenting after divorce may be difficult, there are several steps parents can take to ensure the arrangement is successful.

When parents in Maryland decide to divorce, they may be awarded sole or joint legal custody, or sole or shared physical custody. Legal custody simply addresses how parental decisions are made; with joint legal custody, neither parent may unilaterally implement a major decision without input and agreement from the other joint legal custodian. A sole physical custodian may make decisions without the agreement of the other party. Physical custody addresses the schedule with which each parent has access time with the children. In Maryland, access is counted in terms of overnights, and once a parent has more than 128 overnights, he/she is deemed to have shared physical custody. This is important only for purposes of calculating child support; a shared custodian will pay increasingly less child support, the more overnights he/she has with the child under the theory that he/she is paying more direct expenses while the child is with him/her.

Principles of successful co-parenting

While sharing custody is often what is best for their children, it can be difficult for parents to overcome their past difficulties with their ex-spouse and successfully maintain a co-parenting relationship. However, to ensure that their co-parenting arrangement is beneficial, Psychology Today suggests that divorced parents:

  • Be there for their children, both emotionally and physically, and take an interest in their daily lives, hobbies and activities
  • Shelter their children from any complications or difficulties they may experience with their ex-spouse
  • Support their ex-spouse by being flexible while making arrangements and accommodating their schedule
  • Speak respectfully about their ex-spouse, especially in front of their children
  • Help their children maintain their existing relationships and routines with friends and extended family members

Additionally, while maintaining their relationships with their children is a priority for most divorced parents, those who co-parent with their former spouse should take care of their own physical, emotional and mental health.

When an ex-spouse won't cooperate

In some situations, ex-spouses may find that their co-parent isn't willing to cooperate with them or the terms of their co-parenting arrangement. When this occurs, The Huffington Post states that divorced parents should step back and think about what their co-parent is getting out of engaging in uncooperative behaviors. For example, if a co-parent responds to his or her ex-spouse's difficult behavior by yelling or sending a rude text message, he or she may simply be after getting a reaction.

Additionally, co-parents should consider if they are contributing to their ex-spouse's behavior and determine what they can do to come to a solution with their former spouse. For example, parents who continually arrive late to pick up their children or fail to respond to calls promptly from their former spouse may be partially to blame for their ex-spouse's negative behavior.

How an attorney can help

Divorcing parents in Maryland may be nervous about sharing parental responsibilities with their former spouse after their divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce and you wish to establish a co-parenting arrangement, speak with an attorney for legal guidance and direction at this time.

Keywords: co-parenting, divorce, custody, visitation