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Suggestions for successful co-parenting after divorce

A lot of things can be said or done during a divorce that leave both spouses feeling hurt, angry or worse. When there are no minor children involved, these feelings can be easier to deal with and move past after a divorce because parting spouses frequently don't have to interact with one another unless they choose to.

For Tennessee residents who are married with children, it's different. After a divorce -- and regardless of the child custody and visitation arrangement -- both parents must be willing to set aside the past and any lingering personal dislike or mistrust for the sake of their children.

Because this isn't always so easy to do in real life, we wanted to pass along a few suggestions we came across in a recent Huffington Post article.

1. Accept and respect your differences as parents. While it's desirable to have consistent rules, the rules don't have to be exactly the same in both households. Arguing or fighting over this kind of "small stuff" isn't likely to be received well by your co-parent and could make it harder to resolve more important issues.

2. Communicate. Set up regular, specific times to check in with each other and make certain that each of you has a clear understanding of who's responsible for what, and when, as part of your parenting plan. If you need or want to deviate from the plan for a special reason, start talking to your co-parent about it as soon as possible. Conversely, be flexible in accommodating such requests when you can, if only to engender future good will.

3. Encourage a positive relationship between your children and your co-parent. Avoid disparaging your ex in front of your children and don't deny them the opportunity to communicate with your former spouse while they are with you.

4. Even if you are awarded sole child custody, do not cut your kids off from healthy relationships with your former in-laws. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child and that children can benefit tremendously from positive relations with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family members.

Source: Huffington Post, "Make Smart Choices For Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Success," Rosalind Sedacca, July 23, 2012

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