Co-Parenting After A Divorce—Tips From A Mediator


by Brian James

July 2009

Brian James Co-parenting starts the day the decision is made to divorce has been made. Even the most amicable divorces need a plan for future co-parenting. Putting your children's best interests first, no matter how much you may dislike their other parent, is the key to co-parenting.

The first thing you must do is decide if you and your spouse are able to talk about co-parenting after the divorce. If you feel you can, that is great. The strongest agreements will come from the two of you. However, if you cannot talk about co-parenting, don't!! Let professionals such a mediators and therapists, assist both of you with co-parenting discussions. This is too important an issue to not be done the right way.

Here are a few tips to help ensure positive co-parenting:

1) Plan everything in your divorce decree - Do not leave any decisions to,"We'll work it out on our own". The more thorough and detailed you are now, the better co-parents you will be. Not detailing everything for your children now almost guarantees future parental disagreements, emergency court dates and lots of attorney fees.

2) Limit the exchange of $ to the bare minimum- try not to split children expenses 50/50. Instead each of you do your best to write out future expenses for the kids (possibly as part of the financial statement for the divorce) and each pick expenses they will pay for. Will this be exactly 50/50 every year, of course not. However, over the years, it will balance out. When things change, you sit down as parents and restructure who pay what, but remember, if you can't talk about, bring in a professional to help.

3) Plan ahead for the introduction of significant others. This is a very touchy subject, especially when the divorce is due to an affair. However, so as to limit future problems, this issue must be addressed now.

4) Plan meetings-whether you anticipate problems or not, it is a good idea to schedule future parenting meetings in you divorce agreement. They can always be cancelled if things are going well but are crucial when things are not.

5) Even though it been mentioned a number of times in this article, I cannot stress enough the use of trained professionals when any co-parenting problems arise. They can save you a lot of heartache, money and help ensure your children will continue to have the love and respect of two parents.

Lastly, co-parenting after a divorce is not easy. It takes commitment, flexibility and at times, giving in for the sake of your children. In my private practice, I have seen divorced parents come to me for the most insignificant issues. When I ask them why they cannot work it out on their own, I get three answers. "It is not our divorce agreement"," We thought we could work it out and we can not talk." Being good parents is about making sacrifices and doing what is best for you children.



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Biography




Brian James is a Divorce Mediator with offices in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.  He is the founder and owner of C.E.L. & Associates, a private mediation firm that focuses on pre and post decree divorce issues. His background consists of 10.5 years working with domestic violence and divorcing families in the Criminal Justice System. He is a member of numerous mediation organizations and local chambers of commerce. His goal is to assist his clients in their time of need and help them work out agreements that are best for them and their children. At the same time, he tries to save his divorcing couples time and money that is otherwise wasted in the court system. What would you rather do with your money during a divorce, pay it to an attorney or invest it in your child's college education?

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Website: www.yourdivorce.org

Additional articles by Brian James



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 Christina Raether,   Freiburg / Germany    09/21/10 
 new communication-tool on a web-calendar for seperated parents 
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Hi and thank you for your interesting article. I'm a german mediator and my clients often are seperated / divorced parents who couldn't manage communication difficulties regarding their kids on their own. Sometimes we face the problem that although we come to a solution in the mediation setting clients have problems to live this when they meet in daily life at the front door when kids are leaving or coming to the "other part". Then some parents tend to "fight" again about "little things". I found it very helpfull when I read about a new tool which I use since then very often: it is an online calendar for seperated parents where they can communicate easily by mouse-click and can find also the way to agreements. This could only be an additional tool but is very helpful for mediators and clients and above all for their kids as well. The "editor" of that online calendar is working on an English version. Maybe you are interested to get in an exchange of ideas with him about this matter? Please look at www.umgangskalender.de, get in contact with the editor and ask him after a free access and try it. Feel free to tell him or me your feedback about the idea and / or handling of that tool. What do you think would parents need to use something like this tool although they don't want to communicate with each other... ? I would be very pleased to get a response from you and please excuse my bad English in advance ;-) Best regards from Germany
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 Kathy Elton,   Salt Lake City UT  kathy@kathyelton.com      07/24/09 
 Thanks 
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Thanks for this article. I am going to put a link to it on my website. In my practice I also find that the worst problems in co-parenting come when there is NO communication and each side is making assumptions. It always surprises the parties when they do finally talk and realize the reality of the situation.
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