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Effective co-parenting with a difficult ex-spouse

34798995_s.jpgAfter parents in Missouri get a divorce, they usually still must find a way to co-parent effectively if their children are minors. This can be difficult after a high-conflict divorce. It may sometimes be necessary for one parent to set boundaries and ensure that the focus stays on the best interests of the child.

Parents can refuse to allow themselves to get drawn into conflicts by observing the patterns of their interaction and how escalation happens. They also do not need to respond to every communication from the other parent. They can restrict how and when they communicate and on what topics. Some parents find it helpful to wait a while before responding or to agree that they will only answer emails but not texts. There are also apps that can manage and document all communication between divorced parents.

In some cases, it may help to limit what an ex-spouse can see on social media. Parents should try to think of the relationship as a business one. If they still cannot co-parent effectively, there are a few alternatives. One is to return to court to get a change in the custody agreement. Another is to practice parallel parenting, in which the parents have virtually no communication with one another.

If the children are young when the divorce happens and there are years of co-parenting ahead, parents may find themselves returning to family court for a modification in the custody agreement at least once as their situations and the needs of their children change over the years. For example, some parents who have a relatively amicable divorce might agree to "nesting," in which they take turns staying in the family home with the children. However, this is usually a temporary arrangement, and they may need to modify it after a few months.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
  • West County: 16024 Manchester Rd., Suite 103, Ellisville, MO 63011: Ellisville Office
  • Jackson County: 256 NE Tudor Rd., Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086: Lee's Summit Office
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  • Franklin County: 5 S. Oak St. Union, MO 63084: Union Office
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  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
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