If you have a wonderful co-parenting arrangement in the aftermath of a divorce and/or child custody proceeding or you believe that you can get there with your ex-spouse, you have an advantage over all other families mired in high-conflict efforts. Sometimes, co-parenting counseling may be ordered by a court during child custody proceedings, though we’re not convinced that two parties hell-bent on fighting will find that common ground. We can hope.
When entered into together, co-parenting counseling offers divorcing or splitting parents with split child custody a place to discover that they can cultivate a new parenting relationship. They can do so away from bias outside influences where an objective third-party can guide the pair towards mutual respect and understanding of each other and the needs of their children.
It’s not unusual for one or both parents to be skeptical of the possibility for success, even with the acrimonious child custody proceedings have died down. If you’re beyond the “knock-down, drag-out” – it’s truly worth it to give it a try, with the clear and mutual understanding that the goal is about parenting the children appropriately and cooperatively. It’s not about trying to rekindle a romantic relationship or forge some new loving bond between the parents. It is a child-focused effort and that should be abundantly clear and understood from the outset of co-parenting counseling.
There are essentially two different options when it comes to co-parenting counseling. Some will be better than others depending upon the nature of the child custody or divorce proceedings in combination with the prevailing attitude of the parents.
- Pre-divorce co-parenting counseling may be beneficial for those who know divorce is inevitable and have reached a place where their concern for the children outweighs any desire to make this a protracted legal battle to win child custody.
- Post-divorce co-parenting counseling may be agreed-upon or ordered by the court regardless of the child custody arrangement or ruling.
In either case, the objective is to get the two parents away from focusing on the fight to a place where they can focus on the children despite whatever issues caused their marriage or relationship to fail. It is designed to help mitigate the hostility, rage, and anger and establish a foundation of better parental communication on which quality future parenting can be built. The co-parenting counselor will work to restore maturity, mutual-respect, and child-focus to the post-relationship parents.
The bottom line for the parents becomes clear: Communication about the children will continue on and even into adulthood. How this communication will occur in terms of positivity or negativity is entirely up to them, and yes – can be controlled by one or both parties. How the parents choose to act (and it is a choice) will determine how well the children will develop over time. How the parents interact will have a profound influence on so many areas of the children’s development from interpersonal relationships, business relationships, romantic relationships, even the upbringing of their own children should they choose to have them.
The goal of an effort like co-parenting counseling is to help both parents recognize that conclusion and see that their behaviors will shape their children’s futures in many ways. The goal is to help them realize that sooner rather than later and reach a place where they can co-parent effectively.