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How to handle a difficult co-parent

After a contentious separation, divorced parents are still faced with the difficult challenge of raising a child together. If the split was particularly acrimonious, parents often have little incentive to work together, leading to difficult times and hard feelings. Parents who work hard to do the best for their child can often be disappointed in the efforts put forth by the other parent, especially when they miss custody appointments, skip child support payments or otherwise fail to uphold their side of the child custody agreement.

There are a number of things a parent can do to help deal with the frustrations of such a situation. First, parents should examine their own efforts, and their own reactions to the other parent's decisions. Often, lowering one's high expectations and easing up on harsh judgments can go a long way toward reconciliation.

When working with the other co-parent, parents should communicate their concerns clearly and patiently, and be open to compromise. Parents should try to be open to the other parent's point of view.

Even if a smooth co-parenting relationship isn't possible, parents should always try to keep the child as far removed from the difficulties as possible. Children are perceptive; even if a parent's disappointment isn't stated out loud, the child will see it in nonverbal cues, intonation and body language. Try to keep this behavior to a minimum.

Finally, if the other parent's behavior is truly destructive to the child's wellbeing, parents should consider a child support modification, which will alter the terms of the child support agreement. This procedure can create a new set of rules for custodial and noncustodial parents, one that will hopefully benefit the best interests of the child. A child support modification is not something that should be undertaken lightly, however. Those considering one may consult with an attorney for more information about their legal situation.

Source:  The Huffington Post, "Co-Parent Checklist" Tara Foss, Aug. 27, 2013

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