This is Todd Burnham, the Founding Partner of Burnham Law, and an experienced family law lawyer with a superb record. This post will help you understand the steps you should take when Co-Parenting isn’t working.
When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work
Sometimes, Co-Parenting doesn’t work. But what does that mean? It means that your child isn’t getting the benefits of both parents being actively engaged in his or her life. Maybe there’s a communication breakdown or some other conflict, but in the end, the child is negatively affected by the inability of one or both parents to Co-Parent effectively.
When the other Parent isn’t helping
When the other parent isn’t abiding by the Co-Parenting agreement or is behaving in a negative way, it can lead to the Co-Parenting plan failing. What do you do in those situations?
What you want to do is take the high road, stick to the Co-Parenting plan, and show good faith. All the while you want to document everything. This is important because your goal is to change it to something that works. If co-parenting doesn’t work, you have to do something that does.
Document Document Document
The way that we operate at Burnham Law is to base everything on data. This way we can ensure our clients are doing everything the right way. It’s important to us (and the decision-makers at court) that our clients have records of how co-parenting is going.
You are taking your classes and you’re trying to communicate effectively. And a lot of times when co-parenting, that’s the piece that doesn’t work, the communication. If communication is the problem, you want to show that you’re proactively seeking a solution by trying new methods. There are apps designed specifically for this, such as Talking Parents or OurFamilyWizard.
Remember, you’re documenting everything. These online tools of communication can help you with that. It’s another record of your communications that you can use later as evidence that the Co-Parenting plan has to change.
Typically, the change that needs to happen is going to be decision-making. Parenting time is parenting time and that’s almost set in stone. But if you are unable to Co-Parent effectively and you’re unable to effectively make decisions for the best interests of your child or children, then changes need to occur.
What you, as a parent, want to be doing is knowing the game plan for your children. There’s a short game and a long game, and the short game is that you’re going to do the right things. You are going to do your best to Co-Parent effectively, and you’re going to communicate effectively and transparently. If the other parent doesn’t do that, and it’s impacting the health, welfare, or development of your child, then you make changes.
Getting the Change
If you have taken all the right steps and showed good faith in trying to make changes for the benefit of your children, and things still aren’t working, then it’s time to get a lawyer. You have already been collecting all your data, and you’re going to share it all with the lawyer. Together you can plan the next step.
What you want to do is make sure that you have everything lined up.
- “I tried on this date, this date, this date, this date to make this thing happen.”
- “Our child was going to Summer camp, and last-minute mom or dad decided to pull the plug on it.”
So if you’re not effectively Co-Parenting, you’re making sure that everything that you’re doing is lining up the right way. You are complying with the parenting plan or the order that came from the court, even if the other parent isn’t.
Then you are lining everything up to that point and you’re handing all that data, all that evidence, over to your lawyer. What the lawyer is going to do is help you form it into a convincing argument that can be presented to the court:
- “This is what’s happened. I’ve tried X, I’ve tried Y, I’ve tried Z. I prioritize the health and wellbeing of our child”
Make sure to stress “OUR child” not “MY child”.
- “It’s not working, and here are the ramifications of this ineffective co-parenting. Now our son or daughter is X. They’re doing Y at school.”
After this presentation is made, you start moving for changes in the decision-making.