Although marital disagreements and conflicts may ultimately lead to divorce, finding a way to get along when you share children is essential. Your ability to co-parent will impact how your children adjust to the inevitable changes they face.
These are three common co-parenting disputes and ways to resolve them productively.
You and your ex-spouse have different parenting styles
Children thrive with consistency, but markedly different parenting styles may lead to confusion and resentment. Rather than arguing with a parent who does not reflect your attitudes, you can determine and formalize how you will handle discipline, privileges, bedtime, homework and other routine matters in your formal parenting plan.
Using children as pawns
A Washington family court judge awards custody or visitation in light of what is most beneficial for children, expecting that you and your ex-spouse will not involve them in your disputes. Therefore, speaking directly with a parent you think is undermining you is necessary. For example, you may discover that the non-custodial who serves ice cream for dinner is trying to ensure a pleasant visit and not criticizing how you feed your child. On the other hand, you should call out a parent who tells your child that you are too strict and need to lighten up. Either way, remain civil and continue to express your concerns without retaliation. Do not discuss your frustrations with your child – address them with the other parent directly.
Non-payment of child support
Non-payment or late payment of child support is a common source of anger among co-parents. If you owe child support, but your changing financial circumstances create hardship, alert your ex-spouse and make a formal request for payment modifications by opening a case with the state child support division. Do not discuss child support issues with your child.
Co-parents who practice civil dispute resolution teach their children the value of compromise. If you cannot resolve the matter with the other parent, you may want to consider mediation, or, if necessary, court action.