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Divorced couples find that co-parenting is an acquired skill

Once the divorce is finally over, most people begin carefully navigating their way into an uncertain future with new and different responsibilities and objectives.

The same thing happens when the family unit breaks apart and a new era of child-raising begins. Divorced couples soon find that co-parenting is an acquired skill.

Defining the process

In Illinois, what was once known as child custody is now divided into parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Assume that the court awarded shared decision-making responsibilities to you and the other parent. The court also considered, as a top priority, the best interests of your 10-year-old daughter. Among other considerations, they took into account how she has been raised, her relationship with each parent and what her preferences are. Equitable parenting time is the result of the court’s deliberation and now you must learn how to become effective co-parents.

First steps

A good co-parenting plan starts with a discussion of common issues and who should be responsible for what action or activity. You must always know which of you will be responsible for your daughter on any given day, and you work that out by considering existing work schedules, school schedules and other commitments. Since there will now be two homes for the child, it is a good idea to set up identical calendars in each so that everyone knows the daily schedule. Children thrive on routine, so that should be the same in both homes; for example, when to eat dinner, when to do homework or watch TV.

Other responsibilities

Next, you and the other parent must decide who will take charge of food shopping and meal preparation; who will take the child to medical or dental appointments, school events and extracurricular activities and who will purchase and shop for necessities such as clothing and school supplies.

Communication is key

Although you are now divorced, you and the other parent must always put the needs of your daughter first, which means that you must communicate. In fact, you can serve as role models by communicating peacefully and respectfully to work out solutions for future complications. Take a deep breath and remember that co-parenting is a learning process that gets easier with time.

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