The CDC reports U.S. divorce rates in decline since 2000, however, divorce attorneys and family courts have seen a resurgence of divorces in 2020 due to the pandemic. As more couples divorce, so too will there be more children of divorce.
Today, parents often share parenting responsibilities after they split. This is called co-parenting and it is good news for kids since studies show children fair better in life emotionally, academically, and professionally when both parents remain involved. However, many caught up in the emotions of divorce struggle to establish positive relationships with an ex-partner.
That’s where Teresa Harlow comes in. Teresa and I met in 2020 (while the pandemic was chugging along at full steam) and she is an expert on the topics of divorce and co-parenting. She also happens to be the author of the book Happily Divorced and is now working on her second book Combative to Collaborative: The Co-parenting Code, which is set to hit the stands this month.
According to Teresa, some mistakes divorced parents make when co-parenting include:
To lay the foundation for co-parenting success, she suggests parents keep these four tips in mind.
Make a conscious decision to be collaborative and use the Golden Rule as your guidepost. Treat your child’s other parent the way you want to be treated in all circumstances. As tempted as you may be to insult, argue with, or punish your ex for whatever you endured while together, this will get you nothing but more negativity.
Instead imagine your co-parent saying or doing to you what you have planned for them. Would you like it? If not, choose differently. By treating them the way you want to be treated, you invite them to do the same. Next thing you know, they may even reciprocate.
Successful co-parenting doesn’t happen by accident. It requires intentional choices and planning. If you don’t already have a comprehensive co-parenting plan which covers expectations concerning decisions about your children, communication, parenting time, living arrangements, and financial responsibilities, create one together or work with a coach, mediator, or other professional to create one. It will serve as your co-parenting roadmap.
Design your life around your co-parenting plan and stick to it! This predictability is comforting to your child and makes it easier to manage schedules across multiple households. It is important to note that even during the pandemic, family courts expect parents to uphold schedules and other parental commitments.
Of course, you should allow for enough flexibility in your plan that special circumstances can be accommodated without an act of Congress.
If you have a rocky relationship with your child’s other parent, don’t write off the possibility of improving upon it. Initiate a conversation. Forgive them. Apologize for your misdeeds. Suggest a co-parenting reset and move forward.
Teresa repaired a relationship with her step-kids’ mom after 10 years. It’s never too late!
Easier said than done? For sure…
To expand further, it also takes a sufficient level of cooperation when it comes to keeping your “financial house” in order as well. Financial and retirement planning takes a unique perspective and unique planning post-divorce. It’s entirely possible that we recommend saving more, retiring later, or spending less, but it all depends on how large your “half” happens to be in the end.
In many situations, we come across circumstances that require crucial recommendations regarding tax and estate planning. For instance, many people who go through a rough divorce often forgot to update their estate plan. Why is this important? Well, you don’t want your “ex” to be the beneficiary of your financial assets, do you?! No Bueno…
In the end, with proper planning (before and after a divorce), you can not only get your financial house in order, but set your family up for success in the many years to come!
I will be presenting an event titled “Happily Divorced” with Teresa Harlow THIS Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 5pm virtually via Zoom. The event is FREE with no strings attached, and we’ll be having an “anonymous Q&A” at the end.
So, if you have interest, CLICK HERE to register, and if you can’t make the event, we will be emailing the recorded event link to all those who registered once the event is over.
Hope you can join us!
AdamCategories: Adam Koos, CFP®, CMT®, CEPA, Educational Articles