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Not ready to co-parent yet? Take a break from the other parent

You and your future former spouse want to continue to raise your children together and have as much time as possible with them, but right now, you are just too upset to "play nice." Your divorce may not be the messiest around, but you need a break from your soon-to-be ex in order to calm down and move on from the way your marriage ended.

Perhaps you know that, ultimately, you will want to have a solid co-parenting relationship, which is one of the two things that you can agree on right now. The other thing is that it isn't going to happen right now.

You could temporarily use parallel parenting

Since you find it difficult to be in the same room right now without arguing, you could call upon a mediator to help you create a parallel parenting plan that will get you through until you and the other parent agree you can co-parent. This parenting method minimizes the communication between you and your ex-spouse while allowing each of you as much time as possible with the children. Including the following basics in your plan can help you make the transition as easy as possible for your children, and you:

  • Create a parenting schedule that is as specific as possible. If you eliminate any ambiguity in your schedule, you won't end up arguing over any misunderstandings when it comes to who gets the children when.
  • Choose a public place for custody exchanges. This minimizes the temptation to argue since you are in public.
  • Agree not to say anything negative about the other parent in front of the children.
  • Agree not to interfere in how the other parent spends time with the children as long as it does not endanger them.
  • Agree to some loose house rules in order to provide the children with some consistency between households.
  • Develop a method of communication through which you can discuss issues regarding the children only. This contact should not be in person or via telephone since it would be too easy to end up arguing.

You can add other provisions to your agreement in order to tailor the agreement to your family's needs. You can also include some provisions for adding in more communication and cooperation as time goes on, and each of you heals from the divorce. You could even add in a time for the two of you to sit down and determine whether you are ready to move to the next phase of your parenting relationship.

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