Benefits of Co-Parenting After Divorce
Co-parenting is a term used to describe parents that are divorced or separated but work together, hopefully amicably, to raise their child or children. The goal, though not always easy, is to share responsibility for raising the child even though the parents no longer live under the same roof. In the past, family law judges often decided that kids under the age of twelve needed to live primarily with their mother to achieve the best physical and social childhood development. This was referred to as the tender year's doctrine and it was part of the American court system from the late 1800's until the latter 1900's. This type of parental arrangement left many fathers in the parenting background. Many dads were left with financial responsibility but not any emotional support responsibility. In courts today joint custody is rebuttably presumed to be in the best interest of children. Joint custody contemplates that the parents will cooperate with each other to share the various rights and responsibilities of raising a child. There is no longer a presumption that a woman should be the primary caretaker of a child. The idea behind co-parenting is that it focuses on a child's best interests. The goal of co-parenting is to encourage the child's security, happiness, mental and emotional health by encouraging parents to share in visitation and custody decisions. Studies show this is most often the best way to process a divorce. It is nearly always in the child's best interest to have loving and healthy relationships with both parents. When parents have a cooperative, co-parenting relationship it serves to benefit the children and the family. Though sharing the responsibility for making decisions for the child is inappropriate in cases where there exists a history of family violence or where sharing of rights between parents would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development, cooperative parenting generally leads to the best results for children for many reasons including: Consistency: Co-parenting which fosters similar house rules, rewards and discipline measures between the two houses provides a consistent framework for kids as they know what to expect, and more importantly what is expected from them at both homes. Security: With love and support from both parents, kids can transition from a divorce quicker and grow up to have better self-esteem. They are more free to be themselves without fear of disappointing either parent. Role Modeling: If kids see their parents work through a difficult time and get through to the other side in a mature way they will likely learn how to handle and resolve conflict in the same adult way. In addition, watching parents cooperate will teach kids how to do that too. Co-parenting, like marriage, is not always easy but with the proper guidance and assistance of knowledgeable and experienced counsel and the framework afforded by a well drafted and responsible custody order most parents are able to navigate the issues that will provide the most benefit and opportunity for children to thrive. Empathy, patience, and good communication are key elements to a successful co-parenting relationship. Focusing on the needs of the children rather than the negative energy traditionally associated with a divorce is a great way to transition the entire family to a more positive emotional state. Children can learn that your love for them is stronger and more important than the conflicts that might have put an end to your marriage. Here is a helpful Co-parenting Communication Guide put out by the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Here is a helpful blog post on child-centered divorce that we recently posted. The lawyers of Puhl Law Group, P.C. have a wealth of experience on the benefits and struggles of co-parenting. Call 972-569-3166 for an appointment."