Co-Parenting After Divorce: Tools For Healthy Communication
When a couple decides to start a family, they automatically become co-parents. For many couples, the goal is to divide childcare responsibilities evenly between the parents. Those plans should support both the wellbeing of the children and each partner’s individual career and aspirations. That is precisely what happens after a divorce. The difference is that co-parenting after divorce means all those tasks and schedules must be codified in a legal agreement that the courts approve. The experienced team at Millard Law Firm helps divorcing couples in Georgia to create an equitable co-parenting agreement and parenting plan. That process starts with a call to (678) 319-9500 to set up an initial consultation.
Understanding the Co-Parenting Basics
As explained on HelpGuide, co-parenting agreements ensure both parents remain equally active in their children’s daily lives. Despite any lingering animosity between the parents, they must put the interests of the children first. Co-parenting agreements are a form of joint custody. As such, it requires the parents to develop strong communication skills. Often, divorced couples discover they communicate better with a co-parenting agreement in place than they did when they were married.
What Are the Apps That Divorced Parents Use To Communicate?
As with most things in the smartphone age, there are supportive apps that co-parents deploy to facilitate communication. These apps establish a stand-alone platform strictly dedicated to their children’s needs, schedules, and vital school and health updates. Much like an app for business, co-parenting apps allow parents to communicate effectively through texts, alert notifications, and, in some cases, face-to-face interactions.
The following are some of the most commonly used co-parenting apps available for download:
- Our Family Wizard
- Google Calendar
Once they are activated and in sync, these apps share calendars and expenses. Having all the aspects of the co-parenting agreement “in writing” reduces the risk of misunderstandings and conflicts between the parents. That is what every team of co-parents should strive for.
How Can I Improve Communication With My Co-Parent?
According to Georgia Legal Aid, family law courts typically take the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in determining custody, visitation, financial support, and other aspects of a parenting plan. Often the best interests of the child will require frequent interaction between the divorced parents.
Former partners who have decided to go their separate ways can find these interactions uncomfortable, but as in most working relationships, with effective and consistent communication both parties can usually find a way to cooperate in service to a shared goal. In some circumstances, the best communication strategy for your family might require adjusting attitudes when it comes to talking to your ex. These are the tips to put into action to improve your communication with your co-parent:
Establish Clear Boundaries
Establish healthy boundaries for communication. What is the preferred method (email, texts, app notifications)?
Many co-parents also find it helpful to establish guidelines for the frequency and length of conversations. Is it appropriate to contact you during work hours? Is there a cut-off for communications at night? Setting clear expectations puts everyone on the same page.
Keeping your conversations focused on the needs of your children helps to prevent any temptation to dwell on old hurts or fall back into old patterns. While feeling frustration at times can be understandable, the purpose of coparenting is to ensure that both former spouses can and do continue to support their shared child or children––not to rehash past conflicts or all the problems in the marriage that led to divorce.
Model the way you want to be treated by your co-parent. Being respectful earns respect. If congeniality is out of reach, aim for neutral courtesy. Always strive to use polite language and avoid inflammatory remarks.
Practice Active Listening
Good communication depends on being an active listener. MIT Human Resources explains that active listening involves genuinely listening to your partner to understand their perspective. Follow that with a thoughtful response that acknowledges their concerns. In other words, do not “pounce” with retort. Both parties––and their children––benefit from taking a moment to be considerate.
Use “I” Statements
When expressing your own thoughts or concerns, use “I” statements to convey your feelings without assigning blame. “I feel concerned about our child’s homework completion” invokes a very different set of concerns and responses from “You never help with our child’s homework.”
Life is unpredictable. There will always be changes in work and school schedules. Social commitments on both sides, like family gatherings, may require a change in scheduling. Approach each of those changes with an open mind and be willing to adjust schedules accordingly. After all, the same request your co-parent makes about a schedule change will be one that you will eventually make.
What Kind of Communication Is Good for Co-Parents To Use After a Break-Up?
After a break-up, choosing communication methods that promote a sense of cooperation and understanding is essential. That begins with regular check-ins with your co-parent to share updates about what happens with your child when you have custody. Again, think of how often you would like to receive updates and how often it might be ideal to receive them. Would you want to go a day without knowing what is happening with your child?
Engaging in collaborative decision-making is also crucial to co-parenting success. Parents need to discuss any major decision that affects their child’s life. These decisions may involve medical treatments, school developments, and significant purchases such as cell phones or computers. Collaboration in the decision-making process ensures both perspectives are considered.
Honest Appreciation Never Hurts
Good communication for co-parents after divorce also includes positive reinforcement. Be sure to acknowledge your co-parent’s efforts when they contribute positively to your child’s life. That reinforces a sense of teamwork and encourages ongoing cooperation.
How Do You Communicate While Co-Parenting?
Effective communication while co-parenting after divorce involves a combination of strategies and tools to ensure the well-being of your children remains a priority. Consider the following tips:
Pick the Right Tools
Co-parents can set themselves up for success by picking a reliable co-parenting communication app. The selected app should be one on which both parents can agree, and which is readily accessible using whatever device each parent already uses for day-to-day communications.
Have Constructive Conversations
When starting a conversation, be clear about the purpose and remain focused on the topic. Avoid straying into unrelated issues.
Respond in a Timely Manner
Co-parents easily grow frustrated when they send a text or email about an important issue with their children and do not get a timely response. Acknowledging receipt and suggesting a time when you can discuss the issue is better than “silence.”
Plan Regular Meetings
Co-parenting after divorce involves a lot of drop-off exchanges between parents. Setting up regular meetings to discuss upcoming events, schedule changes, or any concerns related to your child as part of those exchanges can facilitate organization and smooth hand-offs.
Involve Professionals When Necessary
If communication becomes consistently challenging, consider involving a mediator, counselor, or legal professional like those at the Millard Law Firm to create a non-judgmental, goal-oriented space to find solutions and a way forward.
Build a Bright Family Future
Co-parenting after divorce demands a high level of collaboration and communication between former partners. The well-being of your children depends on your ability to put aside personal differences and work together effectively. The Millard Law firm stands ready to set up the framework of the co-parenting agreement. You can call to set up a consultation today at (678) 319-9500. Remember, your commitment to healthy communication can pave the way for a brighter future for you and your children.