Avoid Bad Behavior When You’re Not Getting Along With Your Co-Parent
By: Washington State Family Law Lawyer Anne B. Bennette
When you and a partner have a child (or children) together and then terminate your romantic relationship, it can be extremely difficult to maintain some semblance of amicability while co-parenting. It is certainly commendable for those who are able to do so throughout, but seldom will this be the case for the duration of your child’s life or children’s lives. Differences in opinions on child rearing, one party’s inability to conform to a schedule, and disagreements regarding extracurricular activities are just some of the issues that may frustrate you to the point you want to take action.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Do NOT send expletives or belittling text messages or emails to your co-parent. Name calling because the children are repeatedly late to an exchange or because the other party will not agree to your vacation dates is the wrong thing to do. Firstly, it undermines the co-parenting relationship to the detriment of the kids and secondly, it shows poor judgment. This kind of behavior shows impulsivity and will most likely affect your credibility with the Court as this is an easy way for the other party to attack your character. If you are ever feeling the need to lash out, call your attorney or call a close family member or close friend if you need to voice your aggravation.
Do NOT post negative things about the other party on any social media sites. Calling someone a “deadbeat” or a “horrible parent” on Facebook also displays poor judgment on your part. These are self-serving statements that will only exacerbate the animosity between you and your co-parent and it does nothing positive for the kids. If you feel the need to insult your co-parent, call your attorney or call a close family member or close friend.
Do NOT begin an argument on any social media sites. There is no need to air your grievances in a public forum like Facebook. Provoking the other party by postings things such as “I hope you had a good reason for being an hour late for drop off,” or, “I don’t think our kids should be hanging out with your new s/o” are valid points of contention, but should be saved for a private conversation between the two of you.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
Keep track of these compounding issues. If you need to text or email the other party, be concise by stating something like “our child was supposed to be here at 9:00am, it is now 9:30am.” Avoid using accusatory phrases – simply state the facts. If the other party tries to provoke you by responding with insults or accusations, do not engage. Simply restate the facts and take note of each issue.
If there are serious matters of disagreement that were not referenced in your Parenting Plan (like approved extracurricular activities) you may attempt mediation with a neutral third party.
If you find that your co-parent is not following your parenting plan and refusing to negotiate, you can file a Motion for Contempt on those issues. While Contempt is a tool frequently used for child support matters, it may also be used to hold the other party accountable for violations of your Parenting Plan. This will permit you a hearing date where all of the relevant issues can be presented to a Commissioner who will formally decide the matter.
If you need assistance with your Parenting Plan or are having any issues co-parenting, please contact Anne B. Bennette or Dimitra S. Scott in Beresford Booth’s Family Law Group.
Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100), www.beresfordlaw.com
BERESFORD BOOTH PLLC has made this content available to the general public for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not intended to convey legal opinions or legal advice.