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Co-Parenting Agreements: 4 Tips for Success

Happy Family In The Park
Divorce should never impact a parent-child relationship. Parents must work to maintain a safe and nourishing environment for their children, even amid divorce. Creating a successful co-parenting agreement helps ensure this goal is satisfied. Learn how you and your ex can work towards a healthy and fair settlement.

1. Acceptance

You first need to embrace the idea that the marriage you cherished is no longer the same. An unwillingness to accept the state of your relationship can cause these emotions to seep over into child custody affairs. High emotions only complicate matters.
If your partner is the one leading with emotions, resist the urge to escalate the situation. Responding in an equally emotionally intense way will not help you move forward.
Speak with an attorney to hire a parent coordinator or mediator if you can't seem to get through to your ex. Parent coordinators work as neutral moderators that help families work through custody agreements line by line.
Discipline plans, extracurricular activity cost shares, and home transition plans are some of the matters coordinators handle. But you and your ex must agree to bring the parent coordinator onboard to move forward.

2. Collaboration

Consider a collaborative divorce if you recently filed or have not yet filed for divorce. A collaborative divorce grants control to you and your partner to work through the details of your divorce and child custody agreement. However, you both still have attorneys that guide you through the process and protect your rights.
With a non-collaborative divorce, the family court can make custody recommendations based on standardized procedures, which might be opposite the goals of you and your ex. Opting for this divorce option gives you greater flexibility. Collaborative divorces are also typically finalized faster than traditional divorces.
In the state of Michigan, you and your partner must sign a contract committing to the collaborative divorce process, so you can only go this route if both parties are willing to take part.

3. Communication

Maintain an open line of communication with your partner. Most important, regular communication when co-parenting is essential to foster a safe and nourishing environment for a child. Good communication practices can simplify the agreement-building process and are also useful once the agreement is in place.
For instance, assume you were supposed to drop your child off to the other parent on Friday, but you had a family event and wanted to keep the child until Sunday. If you did not communicate the information to the other parent, they did not agree, and you held the child more than 24 hours beyond your allotted schedule, you would be in violation of the custody agreement and could face criminal charges.
Make yourself available when your ex reaches out to you to discuss a matter about the child. Rely on text messages and email if you'd prefer not to talk.

4. Positivity

Always keep conversations about your ex positive. Parents face real consequences when the speak poorly about their ex-partner to their children. Per Michigan law, neither parent is to say or do anything that discredits, shows disrespect, or diminishes the level of affection a child has for the other parent. Talking negatively about the other parent falls into this category.
A discovery that either parent is engaging in this behavior gives the court a legal right to intercede and modify the agreement as they see fit. So you must do everything in your power to monitor what you say. Keep in mind that you are not to communicate in this fashion in any form, including through social media posts.
Divorce is not easy. Factoring in child custody struggles only make matters worse, and co-parenting is an ever-progressing process. Follow these tips to help you create a custody agreement that puts you on course for long-term success. For help establishing an agreement or any other divorce or separation concerns, Bahrie Law is here to help. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.