The key to co-parenting: Shared intent and effort

Co-parenting, or working with your ex to parent your children after a divorce, can get very complicated. The two of you no longer live together and you may not be on good terms. All the same, you need to work together, communicate and coordinate your lives. Doing so successfully is in your children's best interests, and it's a necessity if you have court-ordered joint custody.

The key to doing this well, experts often say, lies in a shared experience. You need to have a shared intent with your ex: The intent to give your children the best possible life and to be good parents after the divorce. You also need to have shared effort, meaning you will work together to make things easier, just like parents who are still married.

One of the biggest problems that people run into is when they have a toxic ex who does not want to share the job and who refuses to work with them. It makes it incredibly difficult to give the children the life that they deserve. Your ex may refuse to communicate with you, talk down about you around the kids, miss deadlines and appointments, and refuse to follow the basic rules that you have set out for the kids.

When this happens, it's important to make sure you really understand all of your legal rights as a parent. Has your ex violated those rights in any way? Are their actions harming the children and detracting from their quality of life? If so, you may be able to take legal action.

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