Our list of co-parenting boundaries provides you with a 7-point list of boundaries to help you create a civil, stable, and even cooperative co-parenting relationship. This is really important for all involved – you, your kids, and your co-parent – because it provides structure and a stable framework upon which everybody can rely and know what to expect. Below are the final points, points 5, 6, and 7. To review points 3 and 4, go here. To start at the beginning with points 1 and 2 go here.
As with points 1 through 4, it helps to think of these as boundaries that you will be holding firm for yourself. The thing is, when you start observing and respecting your own boundaries, almost magically so will your co-parent (and in the rare event that they don’t, you can document it and use that documentation to have the court rework your co-parenting relationship). Accepting the things that you can’t change because they are written in stone in family law, knowing when not to point fingers, and knowing when you need a little help, are key boundaries and holding them true will assist you in achieving the type of co-parenting relationship that will bring stability to your and your children’s lives, and help your children to thrive.
List of Co-Parenting Boundaries: Points 5, 6, & 7
5: Some Things are Written in Stone So Get Over Them and Let Them Go
Some elements of family law can be utterly frustrating, yet unavoidable. A good example is when the court orders you to pay all or part of your ex-spouse’s attorney fees. As frustrating and triggering as it may be, trying to oppose such an order will only frustrate you further, because many if not most states have awarding of attorneys fees build into their family law code. Some other things of this nature include:
- Automatically withdrawing child support from your paycheck by the garnishing of your wages; this is the law in most states and happens automatically. It is not a blight on your record, it does not mean that the court thinks that you won’t pay, it is simply the law
- The court seeming to not care how mom spends the child support, even when you are paying her a large amount of money. In nearly all states the court is actually precluded by law from getting involved in how the recipient of child support spends the child support.
- The law requiring that the tax deduction goes to the parent with primary custody. This means that if mom has primary custody she gets the tax deduction even though you pay child support. But at least in this case the law may allow the mom to let you have the tax deduction, as long as the two of you have agreed in writing that you can take the deduction (never take the deduction if you don’t have it in writing, because the IRS takes a very dim view of that).
These are just a few of the things that you may be tempted to try and fight if you don’t know that there is no point in fighting them (and there are hefty and often severe penalties for violating these laws). So instead of railing against the unchangeable, focus your energy on the things which you can change.
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6: Don’t Moralize or Point Fingers at Your Co-Parent
Pointing fingers at your co-parent in an attempt to make yourself look like the better parent by comparison always backfires, both in parenting (it hurts your children way more than it hurts your co-parent), and also in family court. The court will rarely get involved in parenting decisions and parenting styles so long as they aren’t putting the children in any real danger. So, for example, if you complain to the court that your ex feeds the kids junk food, or lets them stay up late on school nights, or even lets them watch R rated movies, the only person who will end up looking bad is you; in fact the court may very well decide that this makes you an angry, controlling ex, and take away some of your parenting time! And of course such behavior only serves to cause more trouble between you and your co-parent, which ultimately hurts your kids. So when you notice your ex doing something that you think isn’t how you would do it, remember that how you do it is what you have control over. Rather than pointing fingers at your ex, lead by example.
7: Participate in Co-Parent Counseling
Last but not least in this list of co-parenting boundaries is going to co-parent counseling. Having a support system around you is a great way to maintain a calm, cooperative co-parenting relationship, and the best type of support is co-parent counseling. Co-parent counseling gives co-parents a safe place to discuss co-parenting matters, away from the influences of friends and family, and allows you to talk freely and respectfully in order to create a good working co-parenting arrangement and to work through any sticking points.
When suggesting the idea of co-parent counseling take care to explain to your ex that it is not an attempt to resurrect the relationship, but rather a way for you to both communicate with each other in this new type of relationship, that of co-parents. Unlike couple’s counseling, co-parent counseling is simply a tool to help you get to a point where you can co-parent respectfully and cooperatively; it is designed to help both of you communicate and plan effectively to facilitate the best outcomes for everybody. We suggest that you offer to pay for it, which removes one of the most common objections, and which will still save you far more than it costs in the long run, as you won’t have to engage a lawyer or go to court over every little thing.
We Hope You Find this List of Co-Parenting Boundaries Helpful
Setting co-parenting boundaries for yourself, and then gently and politely but firmly keeping them even when your ex or your kids push back against them, can go a long way towards smoothing out the bumps that can arise in any co-parenting relationship. If you are at a point where you need to come up with some co-parenting boundaries, start by implementing our list of co-parenting boundaries. These boundaries can improve your and your children’s lives, and your peace of mind, by defining and improving your co-parenting relationship.
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