Co-Parenting Through the Holidays
Now that Halloween has passed you may be starting to plan your winter holidays. While the holiday season is often fun and exciting, we all know that they can also be a high-stress, high-conflict time – especially for separated and divorced parents. How do you work through requests to change holiday schedules and disagreements about whether your child is at the right age for a cell phone as a Christmas present?
What is co-parenting?
This is a term that is used to describe the relationship between the parents of a child who are not parenting in the same household but nevertheless must parent a child together. Sometimes this is an easy relationship with mutual cooperation and respect. Sometimes this is an antagonistic seemingly impossible relationship. Building a better co-parenting relationship centered around the best interest of the child(ren) should be every parent’s goal.
Why should I work to be a good co-parent when I don’t have a good co-parent?
First and foremost, the more you are able to foster a beneficial co-parenting relationship, the better off your children will be. They will benefit from less tension at custody exchanges and having parents who are able to make quick decisions for their best interest.
Second, there will be many issues related to your child(ren) that are cost and timing prohibitive of taking to a judge or even involving lawyers. Therefore, when you are disagreeing about the time for a holiday custody exchange your only option is to work it out with the other parent. If you develop the tools to work through these disputes, you may achieve your desired goal more often. Check out the last scenario in the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section video linked below for an example of how even one-sided positive communication can lead to better dispute resolution.
Finally, if your disputes truly cannot be resolved outside of court, you will benefit from being able to show a history of trying to work with your co-parent for your child(ren)’s best interest, even if you are met with resistance. Many people fear that attempting to resolve disputes with a co-parent who is nothing but aggressive will weaken their ability to obtain their goal in court, but that is not the case.
How do I improve this relationship?
There are many tools available for improving co-parenting relationships and communications. The Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section recently released this video resource to help parents learn how to improve their co-parenting relationship through effective communication:
Another tool may be to engage in co-parenting therapy. Co-parenting therapy may not be the best solution if either or both parties are resistant to it, but even one parent engaging in co-parenting therapy can help provide tools for dealing with a difficult co-parent.
Finally, having a clear custody order can help avoid foreseeable conflicts and assist parties in reaching solutions. Even with a clear custody order, though, it is important for both parents to remember to be flexible with one another when possible.
If you find yourself at the point where you may need to use the legal system to better your co-parenting relationship, contact your attorney to discuss your options for moving forward.
If you, or someone you know, may be affected by the information in this legal alert, please contact Abigail Bukowski at Eastburn and Gray. To learn more about Eastburn and Gray and our Family Law practice group, please visit the firm’s website, www.eastburngray.com.