Trying to raise children when you are divorced is hard enough, but when you must deal with a toxic ex-spouse in Washington, the task can become almost impossible. What you can do is build certain boundaries into your divorce and custody agreement that will benefit your children in this situation.
Why you should stand your ground
Before you even file for divorce and hash out custody issues is to recognize the situation for what it is. While co-parenting is preferring, you may need a philosophy shift to parallel parenting. Family law recognizes that many custody issues will not go smoothly. Use that realization to your advantage, and build in specifics to your agreements. Establish boundaries, and if you don’t have a court order for toxic situations that your ex-spouse may attempt, file for one.
Try to make all communication as impersonal as possible to limit engagement and potential manipulation. If possible, only engage through a parenting portal or another approved means of communication that you set up through legal means. Make communication businesslike, and never use your children as messengers. Several co-parenting apps are ideal for trying to iron out difficulties and facilitate nonemotional communication.
Expect difficulties and broken rules
Don’t be afraid to revisit your divorce and child custody agreements if your ex-spouse breaks the rules. In fact, if you have a toxic ex-spouse, you can expect that a modification, even multiple ones, will become a reality.
Document everything. If you have a toxic ex-spouse and can prove your claims, the courts will be on your side. Remember to weigh what is best for your children. At the same time, be realistic about the fact that co-parenting may simply not be feasible for your particular situation no matter how hard you try.