Eventually, the “litigation” dust settles for most every acrimonious divorce or paternity fight over custody and the parents remain to co-parent. No longer are there attorneys or judges in the picture. Nevertheless, there is often lingering hostility that may become exacerbated by everything—including a new romantic interest. This dynamic often makes co-parenting what courts describe as a “battleground”. While there are numerous ways to address parenting-time conflicts that take time and cost money—such as contempt’s or parenting coordinators, this blog covers three common sense, but often overlooked ways, to minimize or eliminate some co-parenting conflicts.
The first and newest tool available to litigants for conflict-free, co-parenting is, of course, technology. There are now numerous ways to coordinate co-parenting without speaking to the other parent. Social media communication is a common tool used, such as Facebook and Messenger. Texts are more common. However, sometimes the combination of these allows for mis-communication making the co-parenting issues worse. In this case, the parents should agree to use one method to communicate and timely respond or ask the court to order this. Online calendars are also another good tool to “schedule” parenting issues. However, the key is to make sure both parents use the tool in the same way and respond timely. As a final caveat, most of these forms of communication leave a digital footprint and can be used in court to show lack of cooperation or a parent being unreasonable or non-responsive. So, say what you mean and need to say, no more or less. Hopefully, one of these tech-tools will assist you in some way to more effectively co-parent, at least at times, outside litigation and related its mechanisms to force “co-parenting”. How can technology make your co-parenting conflict free?
The second tool in your tool box sounds too simple and maybe too invasive if not limited, but it is sharing schedules between the parties. Along with a good general and clear communication channel between the parties on child-related issues, sharing calendars and appointments in real time allows both parents to engage in these activities with the child, and be aware of events and activities for the child (and maybe even your schedule?) that may create schedule issues. This also allows for one parent or the other to cover transportation and attendance at an activity or appointment that the other parent may not be able to make. While oversharing your schedule may create conflict, a general awareness of significant issues and schedules of the other parent avoids the inference that every co-parenting problem is just way to “pick at” or intentional act by the other parent. In the ideal world, it may even minimize conflict if the other parent sees your “tight” schedule. At the very least, it can allow the parent that is not able to attend an activity or appointment to follow up afterwards to be informed. Thus, applications and shared calendars can keep both parents on the same page, and can create a smoother plan for exchanges, activities, and the limit weekly bumps along the road that often go along with trying to modify schedules at the last minute. While there is no tried-and-true or uniform way for parents to share schedules, it may significantly decrease conflict and direct involvement between the parents. Should you share calendars? What information do you share?
Life is unpredictable: Unexpected road construction. An emergency project at work. All of these can play into co-parenting. So, the third tip or tool is what we do in the rest of life—have a backup plan. It is simple. Parents work to co-parent within the bounds of their schedules, the children’s schedules, and with these inevitable variables of life—often occurring at a time when neither parent can be available for the child, crisis unfolds. Having a family member, trusted friend, or back up babysitter who can step in when needed can help avoid arguments and last-minute issues between parents. Then the focus is on addressing the problem and fixing it, not fighting about who must do something they cannot either do. While there is a myriad of other parenting problems, always trying to have a “Plan B” is the key to avoiding court and keeping your life drama free. While there is a point then you alone may be turning to “Plan B” and it is abused by the other parent, the documentation you make with these past concessions can then be used for a judicial remedy if necessary. Thus, Plan B may be an important consideration—and a free one—for you to consider in your case to minimize foreseeable co-parenting disputes. If you know they are going to occur, should you consider this—a Plan B--in some fashion, even if it effectively rewards the other parent’s failure because it minimizes the impact on your life and time you have with your children.
Co-parenting is a difficult necessity, which can be improved over time, with the enlistment of the proper tools and resources. These “Hot Tips” are broad and flexible tools in scope and can probably help you have less conflict in co-parenting, saving the larger disputes for litigation or other judicial remedy. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle custody and parenting time matters throughout the State of Indiana, and understand the significance of same and the potential pitfalls that can pop up in day-to-day life. We hope this blog post helps you co-parent. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.