If you’re currently dealing with an uncooperative co-parent, you’re not the only one. While some couples fall into a stress-free co-parenting relationship after divorce, not everyone is that lucky. Most couples will struggle in the early stages. You may need time to allow emotions to settle and get into a co-parenting groove. But even with time, some bad co-parenting habits are hard to break. If you believe you’re dealing with an uncooperative co-parent, it can be difficult to know how to handle conflict or navigate their uncompromising behavior. That’s why we’ve composed this list of tips and best practices to help you deal with an uncooperative co-parent.
1. Preemptively Address Issues
If you anticipate that your ex will choose conflict over reason, there are ways to address it early. You can place successful co-parenting strategies into the language of your divorce settlement. For instance, you can request that each parent attends co-parenting counseling sessions if problems arise after the divorce is finalized. This allows you to share expectations about your co-parenting relationship. It also shows you have a willingness to participate in conflict resolution.
2. Set Emotional Boundaries
It’s important to set proper boundaries the second your co-parenting relationship starts. Once the divorce is over, there’s no reason to dig up old issues or emotions. Try not to engage when your ex is provoking you. Setting emotional boundaries can help you move on. In addition, your children will be exposed to less conflict if you refuse to participate in it.
3. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Remember that you cannot control what your ex-spouse does or feels. High-conflict personalities will choose to engage in anger over logic any day of the week. That’s a challenge that they have to overcome. Be sure to identify what battles do and don’t belong to you.
4. Use Non-Combative Language
Somedays, it can feel almost impossible to communicate with an uncooperative co-parent. No matter what you say or do, you can’t seem to escape the conflict. While using the right language won’t solve all of your problems, it can help. Avoid using violent or combative words with your ex. When speaking about the children, try to use “we language” so your ex knows you’re in this together.
5. Stick to Your Commitments
It is possible to lead by example after your divorce. Sticking to the terms of the divorce settlement and co-parenting plan puts you in a powerful position. Just because your ex likes to throw a wrench into your co-parenting plan, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. If you end up back in court, it will be highly beneficial for you if you’re seen as the responsible parent.
6. Know Their Triggers
It’s important to become aware of your uncooperative co-parent’s trigger points. Expenses? Extended family issues? Scheduling? What are the key issues that create conflict between both of you? By being more aware of what these triggers are, you can navigate around them in a more peaceful way or avoid these topics altogether.
7. Encourage a Healthy Relationship with the Kids
Don’t forget at the end of the day, you want your kids to have a healthy relationship with both of their parents. That is your goal after divorce. Despite how angry you are or how much hate you hold for this person, they’re still a staple in your child’s life. Don’t forget about what’s most important here.
8. Avoid Direct Contact with the Uncooperative Co-Parent
Research shows that reducing the amount of direct contact in high-conflict divorce is your best defense. This might mean communicating via text or email more often than in person. You may want to have relatives help with transitions between homes. If emotions are still running high, taking space and focusing on your relationship with your children is highly recommended. You may have to only avoid direct contact temporarily until the dust starts to settle.
9. Keep a Record
If this uncooperative co-parent continues to showcase bad co-parenting behavior, you need to keep a record of it. Remember to save emails or text messages that express their uncompromising behavior. Start to keep documentation of any major issues. While everyone hopes that their behavior will change, sometimes it doesn’t. If you end up back in court for whatever reason, you want to have enough evidence to support your points.
10. Get Support from a Parental Responsibility Lawyer
If the issues persist with your uncooperative co-parent, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact a parental responsibility lawyer that has experience with high-conflict divorce. A lawyer can help you set new co-parenting goals as well as proper boundaries between you and your ex. Give a parental responsibility lawyer a call today to learn more about how to make your co-parenting relationship better.