When people divorce, they are often so muddled, they can’t figure out how to succeed at coparenting. But here are some tips for how to set yourself – and your ex – on the path for success because your kids deserve it.
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Take 24 hours to cool down before you react to something that pisses you off.
Close your eyes and consider how you want to experience your child’s wedding, graduation or other significant event in the future – how do you want that to feel and look, for your child?
Do you think they want to remember parents fighting or sitting on opposite sides of the auditorium? Or would they want you to be sitting together in the same section?
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At the same time, respect each other’s boundaries. Don’t take your co-parent’s desire to be friendly as an invitation to be friends.
Friendly means you can work together – it doesn’t mean I want to have family dinner all the time, or when you drop off the kids, I’m inviting you in.
Enjoy your down time, your time away from your kids. Don’t see it as a punishment. Don’t call them all the time to check up on them. See it as a gift you’re giving to your kids.
And to yourself.
Accept that your coparent isn’t going to do everything the same way you do. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong or bad.
Obviously, there are cases where it is wrong AND bad, but that should not be your first assumption.
Newly divorced moms especially have a hard time when they’re not seeing their kids everyday. It’s helpful in those cases, and can lead to a good coparenting relationship, if the parent who’s not feeling that way can understand their ex’s emotions, and gives them time to ease into the new routine.
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Be as gracious to your ex as you want them to be to you.
There are no universal rules for good coparenting, for a parenting schedule, for how to coparent. Nothing is black and white.
Coparenting success is particular to every situation, life experience, emotion and family. That’s why a law that dictates automatic 50/50 parenting time is a terrible idea. It doesn’t take into account the human side of what you’re going through.
It’s nice when you acknowledge the other side. Remind the kinds of their other parent’s birthday or their other family’s special occasions. Even spring for a gift so your child doesn’t have to count their pennies to buy a gift. It’s not only gracious – it’s a teaching moment for your kids, too.
Don’t fret the little things. If money has been an issue between the two of you, paying bills and expenses for the kids, and you have a $3 copay at the pediatrician’s office, do you really have to ask for that $1.50?
Be comfortable with what you want to do. Don’t expect there to be equity on the other side.
While travel has halted or changed dramatically for most of us in the coronavirus era, before all of this unfolded, I was traveling a lot, and determined to find a way to balance my work demands with the adventure and exploration of travel.
Much of my travel has to do with family. I have sisters and my mother in other states, and we like to stay as connected as we can, visiting when possible.
But I also, like most people, love to travel to new destinations, explore other cultures and landscapes, and expand my notion of this world.
For an entrepreneur and small business owner, the biggest problem with travel (after cost) is balancing the demands of work with the desire to truly take time off to immerse in whatever journey you’re on.
My clients’ needs and caseloads are a 365/24/7 type of demand. In some industries, there are slow seasons that are perfect times to travel.
Not so in family law. My clients expect me to focus on their cases in a timely fashion and see them through this transition in their lives to the next stage with ease and fluidity. So that means if I schedule travel, it’s on me to make sure the work gets done, too.
Some people can work on planes. For me, that’s a time to read articles, proofread motions and letters, and edit documents. I try to get to the airport early, giving me downtime before my flight to make calls. It’s a good plan because I’m not rushing, I’m not stressed, I have nowhere else to be, and I can just focus, almost in a bubble, without interruption.
We need downtime to restore and relax. We cannot work around the clock – unless we want to burn out and build resentment.
The Power of the 11th Hour in Last Minute Divorce Negotiation
Sometimes finding creative ways to reframe divorce settlements can ease tensions.
For example, a client’s husband found it more palatable to pay attorney fees directly to his wife’s attorney rather than to pay his wife money as property settlement which she would then use for her attorney fees. It’s all the same amount of money; creative redistributing can make an easier outcome for all.
Small shifts can make a big difference when feelings of anger, sadness or uncertainty are involved. Although I was prepared to improve my client’s settlement, she and her husband agreed on our bottom-line offer.
If you’re caught up in a last-minute divorce settlement, remember to step back and take a deep breath.
As divorce trials approach, the hours before a court appearance can be filled with last-minute negotiations and rounds of offers and counter-offers.
Emotions between the divorcing couple run high, and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, the context and the greater good.
There’s a fine balance between taking on the other person’s perspective to get closer to settlement and making sure you maintain enough of your own perspective that you don’t settle for too little. The offer on the table must be weighed against the cost of extensive attorney fees for trial and the possibility that a mediated or trial settlement could be better or worse.
There is no sure settlement in court, even though the current offer may fall short of your expectations. Weigh in on the costs of continued litigation with the financial reality of the result you seek – and the emotional impact on family members who are directly involved in the restructuring of your family, especially your children.