Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Working toward cooperative co-parenting after divorce

The bonds between parents and children are usually considered everlasting. However, when parents decide to divorce, these parent-child bonds can be greatly strained, especially when both parents have different views about what is best for their children and how they want to raise them once a marriage has ended.

Before deciding about how best to raise a child after divorce, however, divorcing parents should determine how exactly they will deal with child custody. In Massachusetts, as in some other states, child custody identifies the parental responsibilities of each parent following divorce. But as the family law dynamics evolve, the law comes up with visitation arrangements such as co-parenting and joint custody that may help children weather the transition of divorce.

Unfortunately, co-parenting comes with certain conflicts, particularly when one parent harbors negative feelings about the other. Sometimes the custodial parent may feel that a child loves the other parent more. That being said, divorcing parents should remember that with effort and cooperation, co-parenting can be worthwhile for children.

Cooperative co-parenting may sound easy, but it means that both parents must be equally committed to maintaining both parent-child relationships. Communication is one of the most important factors. Talking with the other parent in calm and reasonable ways in front of children and showing mutual respect go a long way in making beneficial decisions about the child. There certainly will be times when parents have different point of views, so it is important that each party listen to and recognize each others' opinion.

Achieving cooperative co-parenting is unlikely to ever be easy, particularly if divorcing parents' personal issues and conflicts interfere frequently. However, if both parents pay attention to how co-parenting may benefit their child in the long run, setting aside the negative things may be meaningful for them as well.

Source: Huffington Post "Navigating Loyalty in Divorce" Dr. Peggy Kruger Tietz, Sept. 17, 2013

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