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How to Successfully Co-Parent with Your Ex


Divorced parents who have joint custody will have to learn to co-parent. This is rarely easy for two people who recently split up, especially if the relationship ended badly. However, parents need to work together to ensure their child’s needs are the most important priority.

Co-parenting is when both parents play an active role in their child’s life, and it is usually the best way to make sure a child’s relationship with both parents remains close. Here are some ways that divorced parents can successfully co-parent.

Learn to Communicate

It can be hard to speak with your ex after you’ve split up, but in order to co-parent, you will have to learn how to communicate effectively. If you aren’t ready to speak in person, that’s okay, but be prepared to find another way to talk to your ex. This could be through a co-parenting app, phone calls, emails, or text.

Regardless of the method of communication, you will need to be able to speak with each other regarding your child’s needs and wellbeing. These conversations should be held consistently so that both parents can keep up with pertinent information about their child. Keep messages concise, to the point, and free of conflict. When you can communicate effectively with your ex, you not only set a positive example for your child, but you reduce potential conflict.

Make Important Decisions Together

When children have to go back and forth between two homes, there needs to be some consistency. This stability will help avoid any confusion for your child. While some rules can be flexible, you and your ex should set some ground rules like enforcing the same disciplinary actions, making the child’s bedtime similar, homework and chore times, and off-limit activities.

However, remember that your ex might deal with certain things differently. It’s unrealistic to expect them to handle everything the same way you would. It’s completely fine for children to be exposed to different perspectives; it’s the big decisions that parents need to focus on making together.

Any major decisions regarding your child’s health, education, or finances should be made by both you and your child’s other parent. Your child’s needs are the most important thing to consider when co-parenting, which makes it essential that you and your ex are on the same page regarding these issues. Also remember, in Iowa parents in joint legal custody arrangements are required to do this.

Be Respectful of Each Other

When your child is with your ex, don’t interrupt their time together by trying to be in constant contact. This is your child’s time to spend quality time with their other parent, and if the roles were reversed, you would want them to do the same.

Additionally, always keep your ex up to date on anything going on. From school events and extracurricular activities to possibly needing to be flexible with your schedule, let your ex know ahead of time so they can plan accordingly. When co-parents are respectful of each other, they are able to reduce any possible arguments.

Take a Parenting Class

Iowa laws require that parents going through a divorce or facing child custody issues must attend a parenting course. Although it is required in custody issues, parenting classes provide great resources for parents who have split up. The course is designed to teach parents the effect divorce has on children. The idea is that when they take this class, they will be better equipped to help their child through the divorce as well as help them know what they can do to avoid causing any emotional harm to their child.

This course must be attended within forty-five days of the custody order. However, the sooner parents take this course, the sooner they will be able to co-parent successfully. During these courses, like “Child in the Middle,” parents learn conflict resolution skills and how to communicate better with each other.

Remember Your Child’s Needs Come First

This may seem obvious, but it can be hard to remember that the most important part of co-parenting is that your child comes first. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own emotions when you split up with your ex. Divorce is never easy, but you should find a way to work on resolving any issues you have.

It might be tempting to lash out at your ex when you are frustrated, but first, think about how it could impact your child. You want to make sure they feel safe and secure in their relationships with both parents, and any conflict can harm that.

Co-Parenting in Iowa

When joint physical custody is granted in Iowa child custody cases, the court may require you to submit a proposed parenting plan that addresses how you and your child’s other parent plan to make decisions affecting your child, how you plan to divide your child’s time between you and your ex, and other important decisions.

If you need help creating a parenting plan or are going through a custody case, Hope Law Firm is always here to help. Our Des Moines lawyers will work with you to achieve your goals and make sure your child’s needs are fulfilled.

Call Hope Law Firm at (515) 305-2772 today for help with your child custody case.