Even if you’ve negotiated the terms of your custody arrangement, sticking to it can be hard. You and your child’s other parent might not get along, and simple conversations about scheduling can devolve into heated arguments.
It’s common for individuals to struggle with co-parenting. After all, you and your child’s other parent might have very different views on how to raise your kid. But what are you to do if your co-parenting fails? Let’s look at two of your options.
Why co-parenting fails
First, we want to take a quick look at why co-parenting oftentimes doesn’t work. Here are some of the key contributing factors to failed co-parenting relationships:
- The terms of your custody arrangement weren’t clear and have thus been subjected to interpretation.
- One of the parents is being undermined by the other, which may rise to the level of parental alienation.
- Parental substance abuse becomes an issue.
- Anger and resentment control conversations.
- One or both parents are unwilling to collaborate.
- The child isn’t put first in discussions and decisions.
There are certainly several other factors that can contribute to failed co-parenting, but if you’re experiencing any of these, then you should consider one or both of the following options.
Seek custody modification
If your existing custody arrangement isn’t working for you and your child, then you might want to try to change it by filing a motion to modify. To be successful here, you’ll need to demonstrate that there’s been a substantial change in circumstances, so you’ll want to be armed with evidence to support your position. This might include evidence of:
- Substance abuse
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Parental alienation
- Changes in the other parent’s physical or financial health
- Your child’s changed position about with whom they want to live
Going into your modification hearing, you’ll want to have documentary evidence, which might include police reports or journal entries, as well as testimonial evidence from mental health professionals, family members, and friends.
If custody modification doesn’t seem like a viable option, then you might want to consider exercising parallel parenting. Here, instead of trying to work collaboratively with your child’s other parent to raise your kid, you and the other parent simply agree to raise your child as you each see fit when the child is in your care. This gives you more parental autonomy, reduces conflict, and shields your child from any discord that exists between you and the other parent.
If you go this route, you’ll need to be ready to accept the parenting style that the other parent implements with a recognition that it may take your child a while to adjust. At first, their sense of stability might be shaken, but over time they’ll adjust.
Remember, though, that even parallel parenting needs to be planned. You and your child’s other parent will still need to figure out a visitation schedule, address transportation, and consider using a traveling book that describes any relevant events that occurred while the child was in each parent’s care.
Do you need help addressing your child custody issues?
If so, then you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. Change isn’t going to happen automatically, and if you’re not proactive in seeking modifications where warranted, then you and your child could end up facing negative ramifications that implicate your relationship with your child and your child’s well-being. So, if you’re thinking about making a change to your parenting and child custody arrangement, then now is the time to educate yourself and act in your child’s best interests.