Co-Parenting? But We Hate Each Other!

What is co-parenting, how does it work, and how do people do it who can’t stand the sight of each other after a nasty divorce?  Co-parenting is when both parents share in the responsibilities of raising their children after a divorce, including parenting time, decision making, financial contributions and more.  In Tennessee, the judge must maximize each parent’s time with the children.  In order to do this, the court will approve a parenting plan that may be a 50/50 split of time, or some other ratio.  While Tennessee courts have been trending toward a 50/50 split of parenting time, this is not always the case.  Courts weigh the best interests of the children, and, if the children are old enough, their desires about when and where to spend their time.

How do you co-parent with someone you dislike or don’t respect?  Co-parenting after divorce takes commitment, communication, and cooperation.  It is always in the best interests of the children for parents to treat each other with respect, even if that is sometimes, or often, difficult.  Sometimes good co-parenting requires boundaries.  I have advised clients to communicate by email in order to keep a record, and sometimes judges will order the clients to communicate only by email or text because they cannot engage in civil conversation.  

With divorce so prevalent in our society, it is to be expected that someone would come up with a way to benefit financially from it, and the makers of the My Family Wizard app have done it.  Courts can order, or parents can agree, that they will communicate only through the My Family Wizard app, which keeps a record of all texts and even suggests kinder, gentler phrasing when it senses hostile language being communicated.  Parents can upload their receipts and pay each other through the app, just like a PayPal account.  The app keeps a calendar that parents and children can see.  And for oversight, attorneys, guardians ad litem and even the judge can be copied on every communication between the parents.  My Family Wizard costs around $100 for a year’s subscription, and I’ve found it to be beneficial for my clients who need that extra oversight to keep everyone working together.

The most important element to co-parenting is to put the children’s best interests first.  Avoid talking negatively about your ex in front of your kids (easier said than done).  Make sure you have a clear and thorough parenting plan, know what it says, and follow it.  Co-parenting isn’t always the easiest or most comfortable option, but if you make an effort, you can provide your children with the continuity and emotional security they need.

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