Over the past decade, co-parenting has become a popular custody agreement for divorcing parents. Ideally, a co-parenting arrangement allows children to enjoy shared support and love from both parents, despite the fact that their family unit is no connected by marriage.

Parents who are successfully able to navigate a co-parenting arrangement must interact with each other quite regularly, negotiating schedules, approaching sensitive issues as a unified front, and generally making shared decisions that could affect the health and well-being of their children.

Although the arrangement sounds ideal in terms of reducing a child’s emotional trauma that could otherwise result from the pain and conflict that is often incurred as a result of divorce, this philosophy can be much more difficult to manage in real life.

The following are some of the reasons our clients have found that co-parenting doesn’t work well for everyone:

Resentment. The simple fact is that divorced people typically harbor some amount of resentment towards one another. For any number of reasons, the marriage wasn’t successful, and either or both parties may have reason to be angry. Co-parenting can be dangerous when parties don’t know how to appropriately resolve their issues, which can lead to parents pitting the children against each other. The parents may only make slight comments, but children will often pick up on the hostility, which can deeply affect the kids’ personal interactions, both within the family and in other social settings.

Conflicts. Co-parenting takes as much work as a marriage in terms of compromise, understanding, and working with each other. Parents who are unable to meet each other’s needs in terms of schedules, for example, can cause undue stress on the co-parenting relationship. One parent may feel overburdened by trying to meet the scheduling needs of the other parent. Parents also need to agree in terms of disciplinary actions and crucial conversations as the child ages. If the parents have conflicting approaches, a co-parenting strategy may not be best.

If you’re experiencing difficulty with your co-parenting situation, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a family law attorney as soon as possible. This will help you understand your options and help you determine if it’s time to revisit your current custody agreement. Prolonging a painful arrangement may result in unforeseen stress and trauma on all involved.