Learning how to work with a former partner to raise children can be a challenge for many people in Chicago. With the Illinois Department of Public Health showing that Illinois divorce rates are holding steady at 2.6 divorces per 1,000 people, or 45.6 percent of the marriage rate, this is a common concern that millions of couples face on a daily basis. 

What is co-parenting? 

Co-parenting is the interaction between former partners as they come together to share the duties of raising their children. The need for such a situation usually occurs when both parents have a timeshare relationship with joint child custody. It seeks to emulate the experience the children would have had if their parents were not separated or divorced. Former partners can be successful co-parents by proscribing to the following rules:

  • The children always come first. Every decision should be made with their well-being as the number one consideration.
  • Treat interactions with another parent like a business relationship where the business is raising well-adjusted and happy children.
  • Commit to open communication on all child-related issues and concerns.
  • Never use children to communicate with another parent.
  • Never debase another parent in front of the children.
  • Always support the other parent’s efforts at parenting. 

One of the most important rules co-parents can follow is establishing consistent guidelines and discipline for children to follow regardless of which parent they are living with. 

Positives 

When abuse or neglect is not an issue, having the child receive as much attention and interaction as possible with both parents is essential to their proper development and well-being. When parents are able to have a cooperative relationship while rearing their children, they show their children the way to settle differences, develop problem-solving skills and create an environment that builds their children’s sense of worth. Additionally, children are able to maintain a loving and equal relationship with both parents.

Negatives

Maintaining a co-parenting relationship with a former partner can be extremely difficult. Feelings of anger, frustration and resentment usually remain well past the point of separation. Additionally, equal custody arrangements are usually split with one parent having custody for 3 days, and the other for 4 days a week, alternating week by week. Such an extended period of time away from one parent can be difficult for children to handle. Unfortunately, reducing visitation to smaller amounts of time is highly disruptive for children as well.

When parents decide to let go of past issues and negative emotions and instead refocus their old relationship to center on raising their children, it can have a very positive effect on the family dynamic and on children individually. Chicago parents should discuss co-parenting with an experienced attorney to determine whether it is the right choice for them.