Creating a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship
If you are facing divorce with children, there are several very complicated steps and processes for you and your soon to be ex-spouse to figure out and resolve. The most important of these will be parental responsibilities, formerly called child custody in Illinois—determining with whom the child will spend the majority of his or her time, and which parent will have visitation rights or non-legal guardianship. In the past, the father almost always was the parent that was not awarded legal custody, but as the social fabric of our country has changed—and more women have entered the workforce than ever before—so too has the standard divorce proceeding. In fact, rather than awarding either parent sole responsibilities, leaving the other to feel a type of “part-time parent,” in many modern divorces the couple instead opts for a shared parenting agreement, or co-parenting, which many psychologists believe is much better, at least, for the children.
Bird's Nest Co-Parenting
A co-parenting agreement may involve a so-called nesting provision, meaning that the parents will share the marital home, rather than awarding one spouse or the other full ownership, and the children will stay stable in said home. Parents will then take turns taking up residence, while the other lives in a nearby second home that they both share. This type of arrangement is called a “bird’s nest.” Bird nesting will work in situations in which both parents are committed and interested in pursuing a healthy relationship with each other—it of course would not work if the divorce was particularly nasty. It may also not be possible emotionally for one parent if he or she was blindsided by the divorce and was not 100 percent on board with the marital dissolution from the beginning.
Shared Parenting Time
A less extreme co-parenting agreement, in which both parents recognize the importance of their shared child having a relationship with both parents, may simply be constructed around time sharing. This situation is decidedly less stable for the child than a bird’s nest situation, but if both parents are not able to communicate, then it is likely psychologically healthier for all parties involved. Regardless, any co-parenting agreement requires both parents to make the commitment to work together, and an interest in building a stable future, independent as it may be, rather than a need to continue to rehash the past.
Help With Parental Responsibilities
If you or someone you know is considering divorce and has questions about child custody or other types of co-parenting relationships, do no go through it alone. Contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.