Most married parents who divorce and unmarried parents who split up in Virginia will share custody of their kids. Although not every family has the same division of parental responsibilities and parenting time, it is common for both parents to have a right to time with the children and some say in major decisions about their lives.
Needing to work with your ex to raise your children will likely present challenges even if you try to keep things civil and focused on the kids. Recognizing that conflict is inevitable when co-parenting can help you proactively prevent disputes from blowing up into major problems for your family.
How can you address co-parenting issues as they arise?
Recognize that your emotions are not always helpful
When your ex comes to you and says that they think you should push back the curfew for your oldest child or allow your youngest to start a sport despite their struggling academic performance, you may instinctively want to argue with them.
Rather than immediately asserting your opposition to their suggestion or demanding that they acquiesced to your suggestions, you may want to broach the topic and then agree to table it until the two of you have had some time to think. After a day or two, you’ll both be calmer and in a better place to talk rationally about the matter.
Keep high-conflict communication in written form
If you try to call your ex on the phone or sit down to talk about a disagreement during a custody exchange, the chances are good that you might get into a fight and worse, that your children might witness it.
Whether you agree to communicate via text message, email or a parenting app, keeping things in writing gives you a reference of everything each of you has said. It can also help you keep rational communication your priority rather than letting feelings take over.
Recognize when you might need outside help
Sometimes, the dispute between the two of you is significant enough that you may need to bring in help. A co-parenting therapist can be a valuable resource for parents trying to adjust to the reality of shared custody.
In extreme and protracted disputes, a mediator could be beneficial. In cases where a suggested change is substantial, it may be necessary to go to family court and have a judge make a decision about what is in the best interests of the children.
Prioritizing good communication and the best interests of your children can help you minimize how many conflicts you have with your ex when you share custody.