How to Effectively Coparent DURING a Dissolution
Dissolution refers to the now used term dissolution of marriage that replaces the term divorce. Dissolution comes from the word dissolve, which in effect is what happens to a couple’s relationship. When minor children are involved by virtue of the fact they were born to or adopted by the couple, there are dynamics involved requiring co-parenting. Minor children are children from birth to eighteen years or longer if a child is unable to support themselves independently for physical or mental reasons. When a dissolution, divorce, is final, there will be a shared parenting plan and parental timesharing schedule legally in place. But what about the time between when a divorce is filed, and the final order is signed? These months the parents themselves must work out an effective coparenting arrangement. The following suggestions may help you make those coparenting arrangements effective:
Cooperation: cooperation is likely the most important of all coparenting strategies. Even when you can no longer seem to get along as a couple, this is not the children’s fault. It is so important to be able to put personal antagonism aside long enough to cooperate and consider the needs of the children.
Coparent: that is the keyword. To coparent means exactly what it says, to parent together, not one over the other or one better or worse than the other. Look for ways to share the care and nurturing of the children. For example, especially if the parents live in separate residences, make arrangements for children to spend overnights as equally as possible with each parent. Of course, things like school and work schedules need to be considered, but in the final order, if the parents can’t find a way to timeshare, a judge will order a way. In Florida Family Court, judges are all about “in the best interest of the child.”
Consideration: If the children in question are of an age to have friends and activities separate from the parents, be sure to talk with them about their needs and concerns. Divorce will change so much of a child’s ideas of family and how their life will be. Therefore it is vitally important to hear how they perceive what is happening and how they hope you, as parents, will accommodate their needs and concerns. For example, if sports are a big part of a child’s life, make sure both parents continue to be involved by attending games and award ceremonies.
Consistency: Be as supportive as possible of the routines and preferences of the children. The dividing of a family, even for very young children, is traumatic. Keeping routines such as mealtime, playtime, going to church, attending extracurricular activities, and visiting friends and grandparents is essential to a healthy transition from a one-family home to a two-family home.
Caring: Make sure your children know you care about them by allowing time to talk, work through issues that bother them, and frequently telling them how much you love them. If there is another significant other already in a parent’s life, go slowly. Children will take time to adjust to a parent showing affection to another person besides their other parent. And very importantly, show, at least in front of your children, that you still care about the other parent as a friend, someone who also cares and loves the child. Though tempting, don’t put the other parent down and keep your arguing away from your children.
Being a minor child having to go through a dissolution of marriage is far from easy. Parents need to keep this in mind as they work through coparenting during dissolution. Trying to follow the 5 C’s mentioned above, a couple can make the road to coparenting much smoother and help the hurting child feel loved and cared for despite what is happening to their family unit.