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Florida parents: Tips for co-parenting when you don't get along

In our last blog post, we discussed the presumption that equal custody is in a child's best interests and the proposed bill to make this law. In that post, which can be read in full here, we noted the benefits and drawbacks of equal or nearly equal parenting time.

Whether this bill becomes law remains to be seen. However, co-parenting is undeniably a growing trend in child custody cases and most parents across Florida will find they will be required to split parenting time with the other parent of their child. This may be upsetting news to parents who don't get along, but there are things you can do to ease some of the anxiety of this situation.

One of the most contentious aspects of co-parenting involves communication. If you and your ex hate each other or fight every time you speak, it may be wise to redraw the lines of communication. For instance, if phone calls often turn emotional, consider corresponding through emails about difficult subjects. Or set aside time to discuss specific issues when you can both be prepared and do not erupt into fights in front of your child. 

Another issue that often arises is the struggle for power over the children. When parents are at odds, they may try to get a child to take sides or try to "win" a child's affection by buying toys or breaking rules. This can be quite upsetting, but as this article on co-parenting suggests, staying focused on the actual needs of the child and putting yourself in the other parent's shoes can go a long way in avoiding conflicts.

Finally, it can be difficult to deal with unexpected changes that arise. There is no way to plan for every surprise of raising a child. While certain types of changes can be addressed in parenting plans to help parents make the necessary adjustments, there are other situations that arise out of nowhere. Being flexible, prioritizing your child's well-being and making an effort to respond calmly can prove to be effective ways of minimizing the fallout.

Raising a child separately but together is undoubtedly difficult, particularly when parents do not get along or even like each other. However, keeping these tips in mind can help you avoid or manage conflict.

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