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Divorce can be an ugly beast filled with resentment and emotions. Both parties are often caught in a cycle of retaliation for the psychological harm done to one another. No one is a winner, especially if the couple has children. How can someone co-parent peacefully in a hostile situation? It is not easy but over time it is possible.
Understand your divorce decree
Some of the problems between divorced parents are miscommunication or misunderstanding in the divorce decree and the governing visitation schedule. Understanding the divorce decree and visitation schedule at the time of mediation and/or divorce is crucial to ensuring one less item to argue with a former spouse. Ask for clarification from an attorney and don't sign any mediated agreement or divorce decree until questions are answered with clarity and satisfaction. It is very difficult to change a finalized agreement and each party is bound to that document even if it has mistakes.
There are some states that order a visitation schedule based on the laws in effect the year of the finalized divorce decree. Therefore, even if the laws today say Dad gets kids on Halloween, parents divorced in 2002 must follow the 2002 visitation laws, which does not take Halloween into consideration. Most states have minimum visitation schedules granting non-custodial parents visitation every other weekend. However, joint custody is becoming more commonplace and grants more liberal visitation. Be aware each visitation schedule will vary since no two divorces are the same.
It is helpful for all involved to create a visitation schedule for the entire year, including drop off and pickup times. Not only will this prevent any arguments between parents, the schedule will help kids understand when holiday time is designated to each parent without the surprise.
Friends and family who have never been divorced have a difficult time understanding the frustrations of having an ex. It is an emotionally draining road to travel. Lies, anger, resentment and manipulation fuel the battle. Ideally, it is in the child's best interest for divorced parents to get along for the child's sake. In reality, emotions run raw, and our co-parenting skills often go out the window. Divorced parents put their boxing gloves on with no regard for the children in the middle of the battle.
Regardless of the platform, it is best to remove all emotion from communication. While it is tempting to rant about the anger felt about the cheating at the end of an email about the child's doctor appointment tomorrow, it isn't productive. Avoid the psychological blows directed at hurting each other. It is best to wait 24 hours to respond to any non-urgent message. Keep the communication strictly business professional.
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