by: Amie Greenberg, JD and Barbara Greenberg, MD
This year it finally happened.Tim and Julie were actually co-parenting. It had been five years since their custody battle and divorce. They never thought they would be
able to let go of the hurt and anger. Everyone said that it would eventually happen. Although it seemed unfathomable, it happened.
In a divorce, co-parenting is a phrase that is espoused time and time again. What is the co-parenting that courts, therapists, and other professionals involved in the divorce arena are hoping for? It is really a cooperative effort between parents to work together in the best interest of the children. If you cannot work together and there is conflict, courts and divorce-related professionals expect you to work through it, find the solutions and tools to cooperate and eliminate the conflict.
Placing children in the middle is detrimental to their well-being. Parents who have conflict in their relationship must learn how to let go and redirect their energy before it builds a destructive environment for the children. If parents cannot co-parent cooperatively, make decisions together and end up in court, no one wins. This does not mean that there won’t be disagreements. It means that parents put their children first.
What are some of the elements of co-parenting?
- Both parents consult with each other and share decisions regarding the children.
- Both parents are flexible in the parenting schedule and with arrangements.
- Both parents believe that each parent is important in the lives of the children.
- Both parents try to have a working relationship with the other parent.
- Both parents are willing to work together to solve issues when there are disagreements over the children.
For Tim and Julie it was their anger.The process for them happened over many years. Early contacts between Tim and Julie were intense, bitter, angry and painful. At first, their custody exchanges were silent and they could not look at one another. Slowly they were once again able to exchange smiles and silly stories about the kids that no one else would appreciate. Next, came more flexibility in their schedules and open communication.
They both settled into their new lives and routine and began dating again. This was “the other side” that everyone talks about. This was their new life.It took a long time to get there. Courts expect co-parenting from the beginning of a separation or divorce. Until you “step into the shoes” of a separation, divorce or custody battle – you cannot truly imagine the difficulty, range of emotions and plethora of changes that will occur in your life. It is not always easy to stay pleasant to the other parent. But, no matter how long it takes to get there, it is always in the children’s best interest.
Mother-daughter co-authors Barbara Greenberg, MD and Amie Greenberg, JD, MBA wrote children’s books entitled “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Nick’s Story” “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Julianna’s Story.” The “I Am Divorced” books send a message and show examples of cooperative co-parenting. Amie and Barbara are contributing experts for HopeAfterDivorce.org, FamilyShare.com, LAFamily.com, and CupidsPulse.com.You can contact Amie for legal services at www.Libertaslaw.com. Follow her on Twitter@4childofdivorce.