Divorce with young children can be a messy and difficult process. You don’t get the clean break that other couples enjoy because you will have to share custody for years. Even after your children become adults, you can expect to see one another at college graduations, weddings and birthdays for your grandchildren.
No matter how upset you are with your spouse now, it’s important to think about the long-term relationship that you will have with them and that they will have with your children. Instituting some ground rules as you move into this new phase in your relationship could make co-parenting easier for you and for your kids.
Don’t fight or trash talk each other in front of the kids
One of the most important things co-parents can do is actively avoid damaging the relationship that their ex has with the children.
No matter how frustrated you may be with your ex and their behavior during your marriage, your children have a different perspective and a different set of needs from that person.
Try to prioritize supporting the relationship because of how important it is to your kids, and encourage your ex to have the same attitude.
Don’t communicate when emotions are high
Do you and your ex have completely opposite opinions about academics and sports? Do you disagree about religious observances or social media use? Discussions about your kids or your marriage could easily turn acrimonious if emotions run the show.
When you have an emotional reaction to a discussion with your ex, the best thing to do is to stop and resume communication later when you are calm.
Ideally, you want to communicate in writing about emotional topics so that both of you can remain as calm as possible and so that you have a paper trail of evidence.
Keep things consistent at both houses
One of the easiest ways to fall into co-parenting disputes is to have the children living separate lifestyles at each house.
Sitting down to agree on certain rules that you both enforce can prevent the divorce and the conflict from undermining your parental authority and having a long-term impact on your children’s development and success.
Thinking proactively about co-parenting when you share custody can help set you and your ex up for a better experience.