THE THREE SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL CO-PARENTING
To say that there are secrets that show the way to successful co-parenting would be magical thinking, but there are three things that will greatly increase your chances for success: communication, cooperation and compromise.
As a successful child custody attorney in St. Louis for over 30 years, I have seen these three Cs be successful not only in successful co-parenting following the legal action, but also in subsequent litigation.
I had a case recently in St. Louis County Family Court where I was able to negotiate the settlement that my client wished: limited parenting time with the other parent and sole legal custody (sole decision-making authority for my client based on their adherence to the three Cs, a real win in the face of the overwhelming preference for joint legal custody and a 50/50 split of physical custody.
In that case, my client could establish through a mountain of Our Family Wizard messages that since the divorce, they had consistently communicated with the other parent about doctor appointments, school and extra-curricular activities of the child and events like an asthma attack and a skinned knee. The record shoed cooperation of their part on items like minor changes to the parenting plan like the place and time for pick-up and – perhaps more importantly — a lack of cooperation by the other parent. Finally, the record showed that my client had not been a push-over but did compromise.
Of course, the goal should always be to stay out of court. I have set forth below some specific tips with respet to each C.
- Always keep it focused on the kids. Always.
- Remain calm. If speaking to the other parent in person, do not invade their personal space, do not raise your voice, do not name call, raise your voice or use profanity.
- Don’t involve the children. Do not have in person, telephone or virtual conversations in the presence or in the hearing of the children.
- Stick to your point. Don’t raise more than 3 points. Be focused. Keep it brief.
- If you and the other parent do not always communicate effectively, do so in writing on the important points
- This doesn’t mean always doing what the other person wants. Follow the Parenting Plan or whatever agreement you have with the other parent. Cooperation means getting the permission slip that needs to be signed by the parent who will be the chaperone on the field trip to that parent in a timely manner if it is inadvertently sent to you.
- Communicate clearly, using the same language as you would use with a business colleague. If you are having issues with your messages being received in the manner in which they were intended, having an attorney experienced in handling high-conflict custody cases in St. Louis, like The Carson Law Firm, can be a real advantage as we can coach you and suggest some alternative language.
- Keep your word. If you cannot keep a promise, tell the other parent as soon as possible. If you cannot tell them before the promise was to occur, tell them as soon as possible afterwards. If some sort of corrective action may be taken, offer to do it. Apologize. Be brief and direct. Accept responsibility for the broken promise and do not blame the other parent.
- If the other parent pushes your buttons – even if you believe that to be intentional, take a breath, take a moment, do what you need to do so you can respond calmly and not lash out with anger and negativity.
- If there continue to be issues, make certain that you have not become enchanted with the sound of your own voice. Consider your options. At a certain point, a change to (or establishment of a different legal framework should be considered. It is essential that you get honest and unbiased options and opinions form an experienced St. Louis child custody lawyer at this juncture. At the Carson Law Firm, we pride ourselves on telling our clients what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. This is essential because the stakes cannot be higher than your child’s well-being. Always remember that the power of the court is fundamentally limited: the judge can’t control what comes out of someone’s mouth.
Compromise (it’s not a dirty word)
- Try to remember that co-parenting is best viewed as a collaboration, not a contest. Both parents need to be focused on what is best for the children and not who is meeting a specific need. Problem-solving is key to successful parenting. To collaborate is to be flexible. As long as there are two parents, compromise will be essential.
- Remember that it is going to be a long haul. Focus on the future and don’t let the bumps in the road along the way derail you.
- Try to seek common ground. When that seems impossible on an increasing number of issues, it may be time to consult with an experienced a St. Louis attorney with years of experience in high conflict custody cases like The Carson Law Firm.
- Sometimes compromise is enabled and promoted when you make a request and not a demand. Presentation can make the difference between success and failure. Set aside your pride and approach the other parent like a member of the same team, because that it exactly what
- It would be best to respect the priorities of the other parent on the little issues, even if they seem insignificant to you.
- Remember that it in your best interest and more importantly in your child’s best interest, for compromise and flexibility to be part of the family dynamic and those both go both ways.
Co-parenting apps like Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents and App Close can support co-parenting and in the event of a failure in co-parenting, can provide ammunition in a motion to modify custody