You undoubtedly felt a tremendous amount of joy when you welcomed your child into the world. Like most Washington parents, you likely pictured all of the ways in which you would help your child grow and live a happy life. Now, you may worry that you will disrupt that happiness because you and the other parent are getting a divorce.
While having concerns about the impacts divorce will have on your child is understandable, you may want to remember that it is sometimes better to end an unhealthy relationship rather than staying married for the sake of the kids. Plus, getting divorced does not have to mean that one parent is cut out of your child's life. Instead, you may want to put forth the effort to co-parent effectively.
Is co-parenting just joint custody?
While co-parenting does work best when both parents have almost equal access to the children through a joint custody order, the two terms are not necessarily interchangeable. When individuals choose to co-parent, they are choosing to allow both parents to actively play a role in their children's lives. In your case, you and your ex may create a plan that allows you to both actively parent your child though you no longer live in the same house.
How can co-parenting work?
Typically, co-parenting works best when both parents still have the ability to get along, even if it is just for the sake of the kids. They do not have to be best friends, but it could make a difference to actively try to see the other's point of view when it comes to an issue with the children. If you are concerned about starting a co-parenting relationship, you may want to consider the following tips:
- Remain focused on the well-being of your child, and set aside any hurt feelings you may still carry as a result of the divorce or actions that occurred before the divorce.
- Work as a team with the other parent. Having consistent rules and disciplinary actions from house to house can help your child maintain stability.
- Work on communicating effectively. Even if you do not want to have friendly conversations with your ex, a willingness to communicate openly when it comes to your child is useful.
If the idea of co-parenting is relatively new to you, you may still feel uncertain about how to best make such an arrangement work. Fortunately, you can discuss this and other custody concerns you may have with your legal counsel for additional insight.