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3 Steps for Co-Parenting with an Estranged Ex

Co-parenting is never easy, but it becomes even more difficult when your ex refuses to collaborate and act like a responsible adult. Co-parenting with an estranged ex can be a uniquely frustrating experience, especially as you try to balance your children's best interests with your own wellbeing.

Taking certain steps can help you and your children live a healthier, happier life, even if you and your ex have a tenuous relationship.

Step #1: Minimize Contact (and Avoid Reactivity)

Tools like email and text are fantastic resources for co-parents, allowing for instant communication with children and each other. They can be invaluable when it comes to changing a parenting arrangement on the fly or communicating effectively about how to handle discipline, education, and other elements of your child's life.

Unfortunately, these methods of communication are also often abused by estranged exes, particularly those with personality disorders like narcissism.

If at all possible, you want to avoid reacting strongly when your ex texts you something inflammatory or offensive. They want to get a rise out of you, so don't give them the satisfaction. Set clear boundaries with your ex and make it clear that you'll only respond to texts concerning either the custody arrangement or the wellbeing of your children.

As an aside, if your ex constantly sends you aggressive texts or harasses you over the phone, take screenshots of those texts or let their calls go to voicemail. That material may come in handy as evidence if you choose to pursue a custody order modification (more on that later).

Step #2: Keep in Mind That Your Children Have to Live With Your Ex

If your ex is the kind of person willing to harass you or be needlessly aggressive as a co-parent, they may, unfortunately, also be willing to extend that kind of behavior towards your children.

Avoid using your children against your ex (e.g., talking about how they say they prefer spending time with you) or bringing up the kids if you and your ex get into a fight. The less you involve your children in the conflict, the less likely your ex will be to direct their frustration towards the kids.

Step #3: Know When to Take Action

At a certain point, enough is enough. During the divorce process, courts often award both parents joint custody because they want to try and preserve parent-child relationships. But if your ex refuses to treat the children well or collaborate with you as a co-parent, it may be time to seek a custody order modification.

Pursuing a custody order modification can allow you to gain more or complete custody of your children, depending on how harshly the court decides to penalize your ex's actions. Importantly, it can also be the wake-up call your ex needs to realize that they need to work with you to have a healthy relationship with your children.

Our attorneys have the tools to help you navigate your child custody or order modification case at Singleton Smith Law Offices.

To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at (951) 779-1610.