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Wheaton child custody lawyerRaising children is one of the most difficult responsibilities a person can have. Parenting duties are often made even more challenging when parents must co-parent after a high-conflict divorce. If you have recently divorced or are planning to end your marriage soon, you may worry about how you and your ex will manage parenting duties. Effective co-parenting with a spouse who is uncooperative may seem like an unachievable task, but it is possible.

Consider Parallel Parenting

Significant research shows that consistent parental arguing and fighting dramatically impact children – even if the parents are divorced. If you and your ex cannot interact without the conversation devolving into name-calling or insults, consider parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is a parenting style in which the parents each have their own relationship with their children but parent-to-parent communication is kept to a minimum. A strong parenting plan that addresses parenting time schedules and other child-related matters using specific language is key to an effective parallel parenting arrangement.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you and your former spouse need to communicate about your child’s extracurricular schedules, medical appointments, or other issues, written communication may be easier and more effective than a phone call or face-to-face interaction. Using email or text messages to communicate about your child may also act as a record of informing the other parent about key information. For example, the other parent cannot claim that you never told him or her about your child’s school play if you have the email to prove that you did. Co-parenting applications such as Cozi, OurFamilyWizard, 2Houses, and Parentship allow you to keep messages, schedules, and calendars in one location on your phone, tablet, or computer.

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Wheaton divorce lawyer co-parenting bird nesting

If you are a parent who is planning to divorce, you probably have concerns about how the end of your marriage will affect your children. Fortunately, research shows that children with divorced parents can lead lives that are just as happy and healthy as children with married parents. In some cases, children are actually happier after their parents’ divorce, because they no longer see their parents arguing all the time or otherwise being miserable. Nevertheless, adjusting to a two-household family after divorce can be challenging for many children. One solution that more and more divorced parents are utilizing is “bird nesting.”

How Does Bird Nesting Work?

In the majority of divorce cases involving parents who share parenting time, the parents live in separate homes, and the children are transported between the two homes. While this scenario works for many divorced families, it can also sometimes lead to confusion and complication. For example, children may struggle to keep track of school supplies and special projects when they must move these items back and forth between the houses.

In a bird nesting situation, the children stay in one home, while the parents take turns living in the home during their assigned parenting time. This arrangement may provide many benefits, including increased stability for the children. However, bird nesting is not preferable or even possible in every shared parenting situation. If the parents are remarried or have children from another relationship, it may not be possible to share a home with their ex in this way. Bird nesting also requires both parents to be respectful of each other and work together. For example, if one parent is responsible for all of the cleaning while the other parent lets the children trash the house, this can lead to serious conflict, which will only add stress to the children’s lives.

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting plan co-parentingMany people use the start of a calendar year to make New Year’s resolutions. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent, you may wish to make a resolution related to more effective co-parenting. Raising a child with someone who you used to date or be married to can be extremely complicated. It can be nearly impossible to keep personal feelings toward the other parent separate from parenting issues. However, studies show that children can be deeply affected by parental arguments and tension. Finding a way to work with your child’s other parent instead of against him or her will benefit both you and your child in a multitude of ways.

Keep Conversations Brief, Respectful, and Child-Focused

One of the best ways to avoid adding additional stress or complications to the already difficult process of co-parenting with an ex is to communicate effectively and respectfully. Keep conversations focused on your child and resist the temptation to discuss issues related to why your relationship ended or other personal matters. Do not criticize the other parent or use profanity. Even if the other parent chooses to disrespect you, do your best to take the high road and remain calm. Many parents find that communicating through email or text messages helps reduce the risk of arguments, but you should find the communication strategy that works best for your unique situation.

Stick to Your Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois must submit a parenting plan to the court. This plan details how parental responsibilities will be shared, and it contains a schedule for parenting time, among many other important provisions. This parenting plan is not simply a formality. It is essential that you and your former partner follow the directions contained in your parenting plan. Do not make a habit of deviating from the parenting plan, because this will only increase the likelihood of miscommunication and confusion. If your child’s other parent refuses to obey the directions contained in your parenting agreement, contact a family law attorney to learn about your legal options for enforcement.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for co-parenting

If you are a parent who is considering divorce, or if you have already started the process of ending your marriage, you probably have concerns about how you will share parental responsibilities and parenting time with your ex-spouse. Understandably, it can be very difficult for newly-divorced parents to jointly raise their children. It takes a great deal of teamwork, patience, and creativity to find a co-parenting strategy that works for your unique family situation. Fortunately, experts have several pieces of advice that may help divorced parents share parenting roles in a way that decreases stress for everyone.

Embrace Technological Assistance  

There are a good number of applications, websites, and other resources that divorced parents can benefit from. Some parents find that sharing a Google calendar can help them stay on track with parenting time schedules. Others use an app such as Cozi, Coparently, or OurFamilyWizard to organize parent and child schedules, keep track of school events, share information about expenses, and more. Often, the most difficult part of co-parenting is communicating with your ex. Using technology to connect can make the process easier and more organized.

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DuPage County high conflict divorce lawyer parenting plan

While nearly every divorce has some degree of contentiousness, a high-conflict divorce can be especially volatile. High levels of conflict can be the result of two spouses who are unwilling or unable to cooperate, or they can be caused by one spouse who is especially resentful of the other. When parents decide to end their marriage, they must consider how they will share parental responsibility and parenting time. Making these decisions can be nearly impossible without court intervention if the parents cannot effectively communicate with each other.

During a high-conflict divorce involving parents, it is often the children who suffer most. Fortunately, there are many resources and strategies available to parents that experts say can reduce the emotional turmoil of a high-conflict divorce for everyone involved. These include:

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