Trying to make contact work without a court order

Posted on Monday, 31st Aug, 2015 at 11:50:31 PM
It is important not to use the time your children spend with your ex as a bargaining tool. You may no longer be partners, but you are forever parents, and your children need you to co-parent even if you no longer live together.

Ways to help make contact work

Try to agree to work together. Parenting your children together won't work unless you set aside your differences as partners and commit to working together as parents.

Do expect to have disagreements. It's only natural that you may have differing opinions, but do your best to set grudges aside and reach a compromise; remember that you're not going to be able to change your ex partner into someone you want him or her, to be, so give up now, and concentrate instead on your children.
Communication is key. If you are to bring up your children together, you need to be able to relate to each other on a practical level, otherwise it;ll be very difficult to be parents together.

Having ground rules that you both agree on can really help. Try to make a list of rules to follow together as parents: for example, you could work out things like bedtime routines and when homework should be done, as well as general rules, such as being civil with each other and putting your children first. Another important rule could be not to say bad things about each other to the children; it's important to be respectful of their relationship with your ex, even if you are inwardly fuming.

If your children are old enough to understand, make sure they know exactly where they will be every day, and try to keep a weekly routine so that it's not confusing for them (although obviously you'll need to be flexible too).
Make sure your ex knows what the routine is too, so that you don't have sudden disagreements. You could try emailing or talking at the beginning of every week to make sure your diaries coincide. Aim to make a rule that you'll give each other at least 24 hours notice if you want to change the schedule.

Remember that as your children grow, your arrangements will vary. The plans you make for your five year old may be very different to those for a 13 year old, as their needs will have changed.

If your children are old enough to express opinions, remember to listen to what they want and take their feelings into account. Lots of children feel very strongly about where they want to be, so do your best to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Stick to your children's usual routines as much as possible, so that they're not suffering by missing out on dance classes or football practice just because it is your ex partner's turn to have them. These regular activities and social events are important to your children and will help normalise the situation for them.

Use the help of a mediation service to try and resolve some issues and deal with what is in the best interests of the child.

If you are unable to work together even with the help of a third party, then the only option would be to apply through the courts, but once you go down that avenue the process can be very difficult.

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