Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Blogger Scott Morgan: Five Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

Today's guest author is Scott Morgan, a a board certified Austin divorce attorney who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at

Divorce is an emotional roller coaster for most couples, but the ride usually ends when a judge grants the divorce and the couple go their separate ways. However, for the divorcing couple with minor children, the ride continues well beyond the judge's termination of the marriage. They may no longer be married, but they are still mom and dad, so the parting has to wait until the children are grown.

Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be difficult, but there are a few simple rules and techniques to help make it easier for you, and, more importantly, less stressful for your children.


Co-parenting involves being part of the decision-making process. Communication is an essential part of that process. Keeping the lines of communication open may have to begin with you making the effort to change how conversations occur. That usually means being the one to set the tone.

If the divorce was particularly acrimonious, the burden may fall upon you to be the peacekeeper by approaching all conversations about the children with your former spouse as if you were engaging in a conversation with a business associate. Keep the conversation on point and free of emotion. State the facts as impartially as possible, make your point, and move on.

Communicating with your former spouse about the children does not mean you must agree. Couples in the happiest marriages do not always agree, so why should a divorced couple be different?

Support Each Other

Children of divorced parents quickly learn how get what they want by pitting their parents against each other. Regardless of how parents feel toward each other, it is important that they not fall into the trap of undermining each other's authority.

If your former spouse set a rule for the children to follow, be consistent by enforcing it when the children are with you. If you have a problem with the rule, talk to your ex-spouse about it. For the sake of the children, the parent who set the rule should be the one to change it.

Keep Each Other Involved

If you take your children to an amusement park, share the pictures you take of them on the rides with your former spouse. It's a small gesture, but it sets an example for the children, and may break down any lingering bitterness harbored by your former spouse.

A word of caution, you might want to omit the photos of the new love of your life. Ex-spouses do not appreciate getting pictures of the new significant other.

Coping With a New Love Interest

Keep telling yourself that this is about the children. People move on with their lives, and at some point, your former spouse will move on as well. Nothing says you have to become best friends with your ex-spouse's new love interest, but do not make that person the enemy either, particularly around the children.

Keeping in Touch With Your Children's Feelings

Don't take for granted the impact a divorce has on children. Young children think they are the ones who did something wrong; otherwise mommy and daddy would still be together.

Talk to your children about how they feel about the divorce. If possible, both parents should be present. Consult with a professional counselor for advice.

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