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Making co-parenting work with a difficult former spouse

Co-parenting arrangements have become increasingly popular in Alabama and around the country in recent years because research shows that children are less likely to be traumatized by divorce when both of their parents spend time with them. Children feel safer and more secure when their parents communicate well and work together, but making co-parenting work can be extremely challenging when one of the parents is narcissistic, selfish or still bitter about what transpired during a divorce.

Dealing with a toxic former spouse is rarely easy, but it is necessary when the welfare of children is at stake. Lingering issues often come to a boil during custody exchanges, but discipline, a little planning and remaining focused on what is important is usually enough to avoid conflict. Parents should go into custody exchanges prepared for provocation as allowing themselves to be drawn into an argument sets a poor example for their children.

The benefits of co-parenting are lost when children become apprehensive every time their parents interact. One way to avoid disputes is to take a pragmatic approach to parenting. Areas of responsibility like education and health care should be divided, and personal issues that could provoke an angry exchange should be avoided whenever possible. Email could be used to communicate with toxic former spouses, and messages should be concise and businesslike.

Efforts to make co-parenting work are not always successful, and there may come a point when modifying child custody and visitation arrangements becomes necessary. In these situations, experienced family law attorneys might petition the court to award sole physical or legal custody of children who have been placed into situations that expose them to emotional or physical harm. While judges may be reluctant to deny a parent access to their children, they may issue such an order when the current situation no longer serves the child’s best interests.

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