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How to Handle an Unforgiving Ex-Spouse While Co-Parenting Children

At the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb, our Certified Family Law Specialist and divorce attorney in San Bernardino, California understands that just because your divorce has been finalized does not mean the people involved have changed their habits or personalities.

The reality is, even after you get divorced, both you and your ex-spouse may grow differently, but any challenging behavior that existed in your marriage may not be easily changed, forgiven, or repaired going forward.

We know it is difficult to forget about the distressing behaviors or actions that led to your divorce, which could make it even tougher to co-parent your children under two different roofs, with two sets of rules and parenting styles.

Here are a few tips on co-parenting with an ex-spouse who seemingly tries to make everything harder as their way of dealing with your new post-divorce lives.

Tip #1: It is Time to Accept the Things You Cannot Change

If you were married to a vindictive person before your divorce, chances are that person is still going to be spiteful after your divorce.

When you share child custody and all the responsibilities that come with it, you may want nothing more than for the other parent to get over their issues and put your children first.  

Unfortunately, he or she may not be capable of doing so. At least not yet. And, realistically, maybe never.

When divorces are new, so are the challenges that come with co-parenting.

You both should be focusing on your kids’ well-being, but also understand that if you could not change the other parent’s behavior when you were married, there is very little chance of you changing them now that you are divorced.

While neither parent should be exhibiting physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, you may find it easier to deal with their potentially not-so-great attitude when you accept that is who they are and stop trying to control how they behave, react, or respond to their co-parenting responsibilities.

The good news is, you do not have to deal with it full time, under the same roof any longer.

You simply need to focus on your actions and parenting choices instead.

Tip #2 Define Boundaries and Stick to Them

Now that you are your ex-spouse are separated by physical boundaries, it is time to set personal boundaries too.

This can be difficult because high-conflict people either do not know or do not care if they are crossing personal boundaries. If this is true of your ex-spouse, you know this already.

Now that you are divorced, it is time to stand on your own and demand the respect that you deserve by setting strict boundaries.

Everyone’s co-parenting circumstances are different and unique, and so are the boundaries they should set.

For instance, if you are adhering to your custody agreement and everyone is safe, you do not have to defend yourself or your parenting style. So, don’t.

You do not have to respond to emotional attacks or high-conflict behavior.

And you do not need to respond to text messages or emails from your ex-spouse if they do not pertain to your child’s well-being.

Consider limiting your communication through co-parenting apps that allow you both to manage events and appointments, documents, expenses, custody schedules, and messaging.

Tip #3: Never Take What the Other Parent Says Personally

Co-parenting is the act of raising children with someone you used to be in a relationship with, which means he or she knows exactly what to say, and exactly what to do, to push your buttons.

This is hard to stop, and even harder to keep from taking personally.

As it was when you were married, most high-conflict people are simply projecting their issues onto you.

It was true then, and it is true now, so do not waste your time listening to the same upsetting words or behavior you had to endure during your relationship.

Disengage from the conversation completely until the other person can keep the conversation civil and focused on the children’s needs.

Avoiding conflict will remove the tension from your conversations and will continue to remain calmer when you do not react to their behavior.

If you are considering divorce, and are concerned about how you are going to co-parent with someone who has a high-conflict personality, contact our San Bernardino County family law attorney at the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb by calling (909) 889-7111 today to discuss your concerns and learn how we can help create child custody solutions that allow you to focus on your children.

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