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Dealing with a combative co-parent

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2024 | Family Law |

Dealing with a combative co-parent can be one of the most challenging aspects of navigating post-separation family dynamics. It generally requires a delicate balance of assertiveness, empathy and strategic communication to manage conflicts and foster a cooperative environment for the children involved.

When a co-parent is truly uncooperative and every day is a struggle, it can be understandably frustrating to read “tips and tricks” that are so much easier said than implemented. While it’s undeniably important to acknowledge just how miserable your co-parent can make your situation, empowering yourself in the following ways can potentially make a big difference to your well-being and to your child’s.

Engage “clear communication” strategies

Clear and direct communication is essential when dealing with a combative co-parent. Establish a consistent and documented method of communication, such as email or a co-parenting app, which can help reduce misunderstandings and provide a record of interactions. This communication trail can prove to be valuable if your situation deteriorates to the point where seeking a custody or parenting time modification becomes necessary.

Set healthy boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is crucial for your emotional well-being and for maintaining a functional co-parenting relationship whenever possible. Define clear limits around communication, such as respectful language and reasonable response times. Establish boundaries around your personal life and respect your co-parent’s boundaries in return. Firm boundaries can prevent conflicts from escalating and ensure that interactions remain focused on co-parenting. Document when your co-parent fails to honor your reasonable, healthy boundaries in case you need to offer these examples as evidence as you seek a modification.

You can’t control how your co-parent behaves. Therefore, making sure that your approaches are as healthy and informed as they can be will place you in the best possible position to serve as a strong role model for your child, to set the tone for your co-parenting relationship and to argue from a position of strength if you ever need to go back to court.