We're Divorced! What's Left to Argue Over?

04/26/2013 11:38 am ET | Updated Jun 26, 2013
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Congratulations! You're finally divorced. Finally done with your former spouse, who didn't know how to discipline your children, didn't know how to make the right decision, and didn't know anything about anything. You are done. Good riddance.

But wait! There's more. Welcome to the unknown, brave new world of co-parenting, or perhaps its more complicated sibling, co-parenting with stepparents! Splendid. Little disagreements that turned into giant disputes when you were married are now exponentially worse as a divorced couple (an oxymoron, don't you think?).

Even under the best of circumstances, co-parenting brings with it many obstacles and challenges for both parents and children of divorce. Differing parenting styles, which were often the source of many marital tiffs, continue well into the post-divorce years. So even when all parents are chanting the "in the best interests of the child" mantra, eruptions can still cause unspeakable damage to the family unit. So, what are parents to do? Race back to the courtroom? Call their respective attorneys to send a nasty letter to the offending parent?

Obstacles and Challenges

What exactly are these anticipated obstacles and challenges? They range from disagreements relating to after school activities to arguments over what camp the child will attend over the summer. Elinor Robin, Ph.D has put together a list of tips she calls, "50 Guidelines For Divorcing and Divorced Parents." These guidelines can help you make the transition of divorce and rebuild your family. It is possible to minimize the stress and damage of divorce. These tips will help you help your children and establish clear baselines for appropriate co-parenting. Tip #1, which sets the stage for the remaining 49 tips, is to declare a ceasefire with your former spouse. By calling a truce post-divorce, you are opening the door for a successful co-parenting environment.

Practical Advice

It is inevitable that you and your ex will butt heads and find things to argue over after your divorce. This is, after all, what you do. And, old patterns are hard to break. So as you move forward, think about the impact your actions will have on your children, and act accordingly. Divorce coaches and mediators work with individuals and couples during the divorce process to facilitate emotional growth and dispute resolution. Take advantage of what these professionals can offer you, as their information and insight can help you avoid making the same relationship mistakes next time.