Co-parenting describes a parenting relationship in which the two parents of a child are not romantically involved but still assume joint responsibility for their child’s upbringing. The extent to which parents can effectively co-parent significantly impacts how children will adjust to the transitions associated with a separation or divorce.
In a shared custody situation, parents are generally responsible for major-life decisions, religious upbringing, education, elective medical and dental care and of course decisions regarding emergency care. But raising a child involves more than just those topics. Effective co-parenting means the parties are able to discuss not only major life decisions but they also address behaviors of the child both in school and at home, discipline, finances, morality, recreation, physical health, and any other matters that parents feel directly or indirectly affect their child in his or her daily life. Whether married or divorced, agreement on these matters can differ, in general each parent has their own unique parenting style, but these matters should be discussed civilly and with clear expectations and any decision should be made jointly.
It’s not uncommon for parents to be uncooperative with one another during a divorce. This usually stems from hurt feelings or unresolved anger, grief, or sadness, but can make co-parenting frustrating. Try to avoid engaging in arguments that are better left in the past and resist participating in dead-end conversations that leave everyone frustrated.
During a pending divorce, it’s beneficial to maintain records of all interactions with your spouse. Record if they are keeping their commitments to any original agreements regarding custody, visitation, appointments, and providing consistent positive messages to the children.
Always remember that how you feel about your ex is less important than how you act toward them. Each parent has a right to privacy, and the only information that needs to be shared between co-parents is that pertaining to the children.
Through the divorce process, you and your spouse will create a parenting plan to outline how you will perform co-parenting responsibilities and how you will handle and divide daily activities and caring for your kids. Parenting plans must be revisited regularly to make sure it meets the needs of your evolving family.
We’re here to help with your divorce proceedings. Contact our office for legal guidance regarding co-parenting under Massachusetts law.