Disagreements between co-parents are quite common, whether the couple is together or not. But these disagreements can become more complex once the relationship ends.
In this article, we’ll explore common co-parenting disputes and examine ideas about how to resolve them.
For decades, the attorneys of Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. have helped people throughout the greater Puget area successfully navigate the complex world of co-parenting after a couple has split up.
What Are Common Co-Parenting Disputes?
Co-parenting disputes can be plentiful when you’re dealing with someone you’re separated from. While it’s understandable that sensitive issues can devolve into a battle between exes, if gone unchecked, constant friction between parents is not beneficial for children. Avoid or limit the impacts of co-parenting disputes by recognizing common problem areas.
Disciplining the Children
Every household is different when it comes to methods of disciplining children. So long as the children are not being harmed, endangered, abused, or neglected, these differences are natural and usually okay.
Holidays and Special Occasions
After a couple has separated, holidays, family vacations, and other special occasions can become a sore spot. What’s more, little can truly prepare you for a time when your ex starts seeing someone else and wants to take them and the children on vacation together. People often also have emotional attachments to holidays, which can make sharing with the children during those times, particularly tricky.
Not Following the Co-Parenting Agreement
Not following the co-parenting agreement is another common source of co-parenting conflicts. You or your ex may not understand the terms of the agreement. Or you or your ex might harbor resentment about how the parenting agreement turned out. Most co-parenting agreements are compromises—and a good compromise usually means that each person is equally happy and unhappy about aspects of the final product.
When resentment exists, you or your ex may find yourself reluctant to abide by its terms.
Micromanaging the other co-parent’s actions isn’t beneficial. If you find yourself quizzing the kids about your ex’s parenting style—especially if it ends with you picking up the phone to confront your ex— it’s time to take a step back.
Differences in parenting styles and approaches are common and, on their own, don’t pose a danger to your children. As long as there isn’t any abuse, neglect, or danger in the home, it’s probably best to give your ex some space.
Manipulation or Putting the Children in the Middle
If your ex is putting the kids in the middle or deploying blatant bribery tactics to manipulate their behavior, this can be problematic. Your ex may not have malicious intentions, but it makes no difference at the end of the day. These tactics can degrade parent-child relationships and can even rise to the level of abuse. If that’s the case, talk to an experienced attorney or involve the authorities.
Methods to Resolve Co-Parenting Disputes Efficiently and Effectively
Now that we’ve covered common sources of disagreements let’s talk about co-parenting conflict resolution tactics.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney
Highly-skilled attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities under your current parenting agreement. If you and your ex are having recurrent issues in any area, an update could be in order. An attorney can assess the situation and determine the right course of action to help solve the co-parenting dispute. If necessary, they can file an action on your behalf to enforce or amend an existing parenting agreement.
Seek Professional Help
You may be exes, but you and your co-parent still need to see and cooperate with each other. If simple things like misplacing one of the kid’s shoes push you and your ex over the edge, it may be time to seek professional help.
Many therapists specialize in helping separated people navigate this new normal. You can attend counseling sessions with your ex to help get to the root of the issues and determine a healthy co-parenting plan. Alternatively, you could enroll in individual therapy to resolve personal problems that may be hindering your ability to manage the situation.
If you or your children are in danger, it’s time to contact the authorities and the police.
Enforcing the Co-Parenting Agreement
You and your ex may participate in mediation or arbitration to solve your co-parenting disputes. Sometimes, you may need to file a motion with the court to enforce or establish a co-parenting agreement. The availability of these options depends on factors such as the terms of an existing co-parenting plan.
Mediation is an out-of-court dispute resolution process. A neutral third party (the mediator) hears both sides’ concerns and reviews the applicable law and case documents. The mediator then works with you and your ex to find an amicable and appropriate solution to the problem.
For example, they could help you and your ex develop a new visitation or custody arrangement that better serves everyone involved. Sometimes, just talking through the problems in a moderated setting can help bring clarity.
If you and your ex agree to the terms during mediation and memorialize that in a signed document, it typically becomes binding.
Like mediation, arbitration is a way for you and your spouse to solve the co-parenting dispute outside of court. But unlike mediation, the arbitrator’s decisions are usually binding.
This method of dispute resolution is typically only available if you and your ex agree to arbitrate the dispute or a court orders arbitration.
If mediation or arbitration is unsuccessful or unavailable, it may be necessary to go to court and have a judge resolve the dispute.
Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S.—Helping Washington Families for Over 45 Years
Family is complicated, especially after a divorce or separation. Co-parenting can be a scary and challenging prospect, but you’re not alone.
We diligently work with our clients to understand their perspectives and priorities. Then, we take the steps necessary to identify and address the legal problem areas. Our team includes Chelsea Miller, a veteran, and devoted family legal issues law firm. She prides herself in serving as a “guardian of the people” in both those roles and considers the whole person when helping her clients. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.