Is co-parenting the right decision for your family?

In a divorce, dividing assets can be easier than trying to determine child custody and visitation. More courts are moving towards shared parenting, or co-parenting, which is when both parents share custody and care of the child. You might stop being a husband or wife, but you will always be mom or dad, and so will the other parent.

The American Coalition for Fathers & Children reports that children benefit from shared custody, even when parents are not on friendly terms. Children who spend at least 33 percent of their time with each parent do better socially, academically and psychologically than children who spend the majority of their time with one parent.

Questions to ask before co-parenting

  • Can you respect the other parent's role?
  • Can you work with the other parent, even though you may not see eye-to-eye?
  • Can you move past the emotional upheaval of the divorce?
  • Can you learn new methods of communication to form a partnership to do what is best for the child?
  • Can you share "power" and give up "control?"
  • Do you physically live close enough to share parenting?
  • Can you be committed to co-parenting, even through disagreements and misunderstandings?
  • Can you agree to a third-party mediator to help you work through higher conflict issues that will inevitably arise as your children grow?

Co-parenting is not an easy road, but it is much better for the children to see parental role models working together to find solutions to any issues that arise. Additionally, children see stability in their relationships with each parent. Both parents are important to the development of a child's emotions and behaviors. Co-parenting keeps both parents actively involved and engaged in the child's life.

Alternative to co-parenting

However, co-parenting is not for every family. Both parents have to be committed to what is best for the children instead of trying to win. In situations of domestic violence or abuse, co-parenting is probably not a viable plan. In these cases, if both parents are to have custody, parallel parenting can be an option. The parenting responsibilities are shared, but parents do not engage in conversations about day-to-day care of the child. Many times, parents will use a parenting coordinator to limit conflict.

Finding the right custody arrangement for your family depends on a number of circumstances. You should discuss your situation with an experienced attorney knowledgeable of the latest family law rules and regulations to protect your rights and find the solution that meets the best interest of the children.

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