17 Tips For Successful Co-Parenting

Co-Parenting with EX can be extremely difficult for some and seamless for others. This is not how you pictured it, this not what you wanted, and it is not ideal…. But there are ways that you can make co-parenting work for you in the best interested of your children. Remember this is someone that YOU chose to have children with and this is their other parent.

Here are 17 tips for successful co-parenting:

  1. Have a plan: Having a very clear parenting plan at the get go of your separation can solve many many current and future issues that may arise. A clear parenting plan can set out an access schedule, a holiday schedule, and summer vacation schedule which takes away all of the guess work. In addition, a clear parenting plan will outline strategies for when one of you cannot care for the children on your time, and any other information you wish to have outlined. When a clear parenting plan is set out there are no questions and it makes everything predictable.
  2. Be empathetic: It can be very difficult to show empathy for your ex. Maybe they have hurt you in the past, or they have caused a lot of conflict for you. Practicing empathy with the other parent as well as with your children is an imperative aspect of successful co-parenting. Keeping in mind that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.
  3. Go to the source: If the children are talking about the other parent listen, but listen not to be critical of the other parent. If the children share something that is concerning, go to the source. Talk to the other parent, clarify the situation and come to an understanding.
  4. Be flexible: Yes, plans are extremely important for successful co-parenting, but flexibility is also important. Life doesn’t always go as planned and we need to able to adapt and improve when the time comes.
  5. Listen and hear: There is a big difference between listening and hearing. When your children or the other parent is talking about their difficulties, hear them, take in what they are saying and try to see things from their perspective. When you do this you are able to garnish more compassion and understanding for the other person that is sharing.
  6. Pick your battles: Not everything is worth fighting over. Pick and choose which battles are important for you to become involved with. Know that you and your ex probably have different parenting styles and that is ok. If you lived with each other you would still have different parenting styles, that doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent is wrong.
  7. Stay on the same page: It is important that you and your ex are on the same page about the big stuff. You may see things differently sometimes and you may disagree about certain aspect of parenting, but being on the same page about the big stuff will save a lot of arguments.
  8. Practice mutual respect: Practicing mutual respect is difficult in many households. But it is important that you remember that your ex was once someone you had feelings for and respected. When you hear things that trigger you, wait to deal with it until you can do it respectfully. Treat them the way you would want to be treated, even if it is very difficult at times.
  9. Keep the children out of it: The children don’t need to know everything about every decision, they don’t need to be the go between, and they certainly don’t need to be involved in any conflict or disagreements between you and the other parent. Have a clause in your parenting agreement about how to handle conflict when you and the other parent disagree.
  10. Encourage children to address the other parent: When the children come home and express issues they are having with the other parent, encourage them to discuss this with that parent. Help them to understand that it is important for them to talk with the other parent and clear up their difficulties with them.
  11. Keep exchanges short and to the point: Keeping things short and to the point helps to minimize the amount of conflict that could arise from triggers or emotions.
  12. Share accomplishments, pictures, and other information: Sharing in the positives when one parent cannot be there is very important. It shows the children that you are on the same page, that you are inclusive, and that the other parent is an important part of their lives.
  13. Keep your thoughts to yourself: Don’t speak poorly about the other parent in front of or around your children. They will hear you.
  14. Enjoy your time: Enjoy the time to yourself. Do things for you. When you do this, you focus less on what your children are doing with the other parent and focus more on yourself. Giving yourself the opportunity to recharge will not only benefit you but also your children because then you can be the best parent you can be.
  15. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Hearing about the other parent’s decisions, parenting style, or anything else can sometimes be a trigger and cause irritation or aggravation inside of you. Unless it is big enough that you feel you need to step in, let it go. Being irritated or aggravated over things that you cannot control only wastes your energy.
  16. Let go of the “my stuff, your stuff”: When the children have something, allow it to be THEIR stuff. Having stuff at mom’s and stuff at dad’s that cannot be brought to the other home can be stressful. This makes children feel as though things from your house are not welcomed at the other parent’s and vice versa.
  17. Forgive: Forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiving the other party can free you from negativity, from judgement, and from draining your energy on something you cannot change. Forgive them for you and for you children. Release yourself of the judgement of the other parent, be you, let them be them and come to a place of acceptance.

Divorce Mediator Vs. Divorce Lawyer. What you need to know.

Believe it or not, this is one of the most important decision you will make during your separation process. Depending on which one you chose can determine the cost, longevity, and emotional output of your divorce proceedings. Here is some information you need to know when making this important decision.

Meditation Litigation
Decision Making & Control Proactive! You are in control of the outcome and the decision agreed upon reflect you and your family's unique needs! Reactive. Lawyers and Judges rely on precedent which results in a loss of control and power.
Cost Financial responsible and cost effective Financially draining on your assets
Communication Fosters an open and honest dialogue of issues. Encourages expression of positions, interests & needs. Communication between parties is discouraged by counsel. Opportunities to express concerns are limited.
Confidentiality All information shared during the meditation process is private. All information, including financial, becomes part of the public record of the court.
Emotional Atmosphere Cooperative, comfort and less stressful. Adversarial and contentious (you vs. them mentality)
Impact on Children Minimized! The needs of the children remain central to decision making. Often overlooked. Children may be used as pawns in legal proceedings.
Meeting Tone Business-like & informal. Formal and intimidating.
Duration of Process Time efficient by design. Court dictated & lengthy.
Future Intersections Stage is set for future agreements. Stage is set for future disputes.

Table from http://modernfamilymediation.org

If you are unsure if you need a lawyer or a mediator, give us a call. At Clarity Divorce we have both mediators and lawyers who work with you for the best outcome for you and your family. Contact us below or give us a call at 343-887-5053.

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Avoid using your Children as Pawns in your Divorce

Too many adults divorce because they fail to effectively communicate with each other. They still have to remain in contact with each other though due to the children they have results from that marriage. It is very important to avoid using your children as pawns in your divorce though. Too many people do it, and the children are the ones that suffer for it.

Keeping the children from seeing their other parent as a way to get back at them for the hurt they have put you through is common. That is a way that many divorced couples punish each other. Yet the children are the ones who suffer from it because they are missing out on that relationship. Unless the other parent isn’t fit to have the children alone then you need to let them go at the set visitation times.

Many children do miss the other parent when they are staying with one. This can hurt the parent they are with. Yet it is important to understand that children have unconditional love for both of their parents all the time. Allowing the children to call the other parent when they miss them or even as a standard ritual before bed can help to relieve their anxiety. It will also allow them to enjoy their time with each parent more.

While children do need to know what is going on as far as the divorce is concerned, they don’t need to know all of the details. Important issues that have to be discussed between the parents should be done privately. Remember that little ears can hear a great deal so make sure they aren’t even around when you are talking about sensitive issues.

When issues arise that involve your children you will need to work together to resolve them. When the parents are offering the opposite solution just to be difficult it only hurts the child more. For example if you have a high school student that has been cutting school you need to come up with a course of action to make them responsible. If one parent thinks it is a big deal and the other parent doesn’t mind then it become an ongoing issue.

Children of divorced parents are going to follow the guidelines of the parent that is in their favor on set issues. I guess you could say it is one of the few perks that children of divorces couples are able to exercise. Yet this can lead to many more issues down the road. So instead of using the children to drive your ex spouse crazy find ways to work as a team to do what is in the best interest of your children.

Never under any circumstances should you be passing messages to your ex spouse through your children. That isn’t their responsibility and too often these children are being told to say things they don’t want to repeat. You also don’t want to be asking your children for information when they return from a visit.

It is fine to ask them what they did and if they had a good time. However, you will be overstepping the boundaries if you are asking specific questions. They shouldn’t have to tell you what was said, who was around, and other details of their time together with the other parent.

If you are having a hard time coming to terms with your divorce, seek professional counseling. You will be able to work through your emotions and set goals for your future. You don’t want to dwell on what has taken place or suppress your feelings. You want to be able to have a good life and to be there for your children in a positive way. Make sure you always stop to consider how our actions are going to affect your children before you engage in them.

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Divorce…Where Do I Start?

Perhaps you have made the decision that you are wanting to separate, or maybe you haven’t completely decided yet. Perhaps your spouse has left or made the decision that they don’t want to be a part of the marriage anymore. No matter the situation, knowing where to start can be the hardest part. There is so much contradicting information out there, some of it false some of it accurate. Who do you trust? Your friends and family are telling you one thing, the internet is saying something else.

At the SDRC we like to keep things simple. The best place to start is a consultation.

What is a consultation: This is a one-on-one meeting with one of our mediators who will sit with you alone to discuss your case. They will talk to you about what is happening, what has been happening, what your expectations are, and what you are struggling with. Once they have all of the information, they will assist you in coming up with a clear road map to move forward in the most cost effective, and least emotionally draining way possible for you and your family.

What is road map? A road map for us is clear a path and a step by step way to support you through the process. Whether your spouse wants to participate in an amicable separation or not, we can help you navigate the family law system.

What additional resources do you have? If your case is highly adversarial, we can still help! We work closely with our lawyers and team members to assist in resolving very difficult cases. During your consultation our mediators will be able to assess what resources, if any that your case requires. From there we work with you as a support through the entire process. With us you are never alone.

If you or someone you know is separating and doesn’t know what to do, leave us a message below and we will be there to help.

Additional Expenses to Consider for your Children when you are Divorced

The expenses for caring for children continue to rise, and that doesn’t make it any easier for divorced parents. Each it attempting to keep their own household going. At the same time they often try to share expenses for their children. One of the parents should have both medical and dental coverage on the children. This may be court ordered or due to a mutual agreement between the parents.

  1. It is the responsibility of both parents to pay for such care that their children need. Have a plan of action so that it won’t be a problem later on. For example if one of you is paying for the premium on the insurance then the other parent should pay for the co-pays and deductibles. Discuss the care that is needed before it is done so that both parents agree to go forward with it.
  2. Childcare is another expense that can add up when a divorce takes place. Perhaps one of the parents was the caregiver and now both are in the workforce. The parents should decide on a childcare provide together. It may be a licensed facility, a nanny, or even a family member. The cost of childcare should be second to the quality of care that your children are receiving though.
  3. Inevitably there will be additional expenses for your children. Who is going to pay for school clothing and supplies? Many parents who pay child support assume that they pay enough for such items with that monthly check. Yet it may be just enough to help the family with food and shelter. You don’t want your children to go without due to money being an issue.
  4. Many children love to be involved in extracurricular activities as well. It can be sports, dance, or clubs. There will be expenses involved as well based on fees, special clothing and shoes needed, and even enrollment fees. Parents need to be willing to share such expenses so that their children can take part in such events.
  5. Summer is also a time when there are more expenses for children. They may want to go swimming lessons, camping, or even to a summer camp. All of these things cost money and someone has to pay it. Some feel the parent who makes more money should cover the cost. This is up to the parents though as many want to do everything like that 50/50. Yet the problem could come in when one parent can’t afford their share.

As you can see there are plenty of additional expenses to consider for your children when you are divorced. They really haven’t changed from when you were married. Yet if you were the parent who didn’t take care of such issues you may not have realized how much they cost. Make sure you are willing to discuss these expenses with the other parent. You want to do what is in the best interest of your children.

If you are unsure of what to expect before, during, or after your divorce CONTACT US today for a consultation.

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Parenting Through Divorce

Parenting in general can be difficult. When you are dealing with divorce, parenting can be that much harder.

How do I tell my kids? What is the best schedule for them? How to we make the transition easier for them? How can I support them through this difficult time?

Remember they did not chose this, join us for the answers to these questions and more.

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Custody: Working Through The Battles

Are you in a heated custody battle? Do you question if spending time with their father is important to children? Far too often we see fathers denied access to their children.

One of the most difficult aspects is that yes, fathers are different than mothers. They have a more difficult time filling the mother role, they have a more difficult time being nurturing or dealing with emotions. But does that make them bad? Does that mean that they shouldn’t see their children?

I’ve Decided to Divorce. Now What?

Making the decision to get a divorce isn’t easy.

You’ve built your lives together, invested so many years into the relationship and perhaps even added children to the equation. It certainly isn’t something that should be taken lightly.

If you’ve reached this point, you’re likely to be feeling understandably confused and even anxious about the future. As much as you want the marriage to end, you don’t want to hurt anyone, you don’t want it to affect your kids and aren’t entirely sure what your next step should be.

Here at Clarity Divorce, we understand this is a difficult time and you’re likely to need extra support to get through. That’s why we’ve put together a short guide that can help you through the next steps in the process, as stress-free as possible.

1. Make 110% sure that you want to divorce

Deciding to call it quits on your relationship is a big decision to make, especially if you have kids. It’s also very difficult to go back on your decision once you’ve actually taken the step of filing for divorce, let alone the emotional heartache.

That’s why you should always take your time when coming to your decision. Ask yourself questions such as;

  • Have you really exhausted all hope?
  • Have you and your partner ever spoken openly about your relationship problems?
  • Could marriage counselling help?
  • Is there any other way you could save the relationship?

If there’s even the smallest twinge of doubt, it’s important to address these feelings. You could do this alone, although you should be careful when it comes to using a journal or other written method to work through how you’re feeling. Trusted friends and family members can also be a fantastic help, as can a relationship counsellor.

Of course, feelings of uncertainty, doubt and fear of the unknown are perfectly normal, especially if you have spent many years together.

2. What you want your life to look like after your divorce?

You should next take time to consider what you’d like your life to be like post-divorce.

Where would you be living? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Are there any dreams that you hope to fulfill once you’ve separated?

By taking your time to imagine that bright future that lies ahead, you’ll be able to battle through the more emotionally challenging or stressful aspects of the divorce process much more easily. You’ll see that light at the end of the tunnel, and it will give you the strength you need to get through this milestone.

3. Do your homework

Before you breathe a word about the divorce to your partner, you must get yourself as educated as possible, especially when it comes to important matters such as your finances.

Make it your priority to find out about:

  • Cash in your accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Debt
  • Mortgages
  • Savings
  • Investments

Then do some number crunching and figure out where you might stand. Will you really be able to cover your rent, grocery bills and other expenses when you live on your own? Or would you need to make changes in order to afford a ‘single’ life?

Once you’ve done this, make copies of all these documents and any other important papers and file them away somewhere safe. However reasonable your partner may seem, there is a chance that he or she could freak out and lock you out of your accounts. Don’t let that happen.

It’s also worth considering putting a small amount of money aside to help you get through the divorce, especially if your partner does take the news badly.

4. Tell your partner that you want a divorce

Once you’ve gathered your information, you can finally break the news to your partner. Even if your relationship has been in tatters for months, your partner is likely to find this difficult to hear.

Wherever possible, aim to come to a mutual decision and avoid telling your partner that you’ve already decided and/or spent weeks researching your next steps. This is likely to hurt your partner even more and make them far less likely to be cooperative when it comes to negotiating the finer details of the divorce.

Give them time to digest the news before you start any of the formal divorce proceedings, no matter how eager you are to get started.

5. Discuss logistics

It can feel tempting at this point to keep a distance from each other and communicate only through attorneys.

However, if you want a smooth and relatively stress-free divorce, you must do everything you can to discuss the details of your divorce with each other and come to a mutual decision.

Although every couple is unique, your conversations are likely to include the following;

  • Housing: What will happen with the marital home? Will you sell or will one of you stay? If so, who? How will you split it?
  • Custody and access: How will you arrange custody of the children? Will they alternate between home or spend most of the week with one partner and visit the other? What schedule will work for everyone involved?
  • Breaking the news: Who will break the news of the divorce to your children (if you have them) and mutual friends?
  • Pets: What about the family pet(s)? Will one of you keep your dog, cat or other pet or will you share ‘custody’?

If you find that you can’t agree on certain topics, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal for couples who are getting a divorce. These issues can be resolved at a later date.

6. Ask for help

Having the right support at times of stress can make a huge difference so don’t be afraid to turn to friends and family when you need advice, especially if they’ve been through a divorce themselves.

It’s also worth hiring a divorce coach and an attorney to help you resolve any sticky situations with your partner and make the divorce as pain-free as possible.

When you’ve decided to divorce, it’s normal to feel confused and overwhelmed about your next step. This is a big deal, after all! But if you make sure it’s the right decision for your relationship, get prepared and find the right support, the process will run much more smoothly.

7. Mediation vs. Litigation

It is important that both you and your partner have a clear understanding of mediation and litigation. In short mediation is the process where both parties come to the table to negotiate, and litigation is where both parties have separate lawyers. We advocate towards mediation because of its emotional and financial benefits.

Book a relationship assessment consultation

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Blending a Family

Blending a family can be a very delicate process, and many times if not done properly can cause years of conflict. There are many factors that determine how to move forward with blending a family. For example, if there are children on both sides, if the children are older or younger, what the current access arrangements are for the children.

All of these circumstances determine how to approach blending a family to ensure as much success as possible. Just the fact that you are asking if you are ready is a good sign because it shows that you are being proactive. Here are some suggestions prior to blending a family.