Parents in Virginia who have divorced may have ended their union with one another, but they still retain a certain relationship: they are both still parents to their child. This means they must be able to communicate and cooperate with one another, so that they can raise their child in a manner that provides the child with stability and the ability to retain a meaningful relationship with each parent. For this reason, some parents who can manage to work together despite their divorce will decide to co-parent.
However, parents who want to co-parent following their divorce may want to carefully consider their child custody arrangements. While joint custody may be the goal, having one parent care for the child on weekdays and one parent care for the child on the weekends is not always in the best interests of the child. This is because in such arrangements the weekend parent may enjoy “fun” time with the child, but miss out on crucial aspects of caring for the child on a daily basis, while the weekday parent may take the primary role in participating in the daily care of the child, without having the time to enjoy leisurely activities with the child. Both the child and the parents may benefit from a child custody arrangement that allows each parent to have responsibilities over the child, as well as fun time with the child.
Parents also need to keep the lines of communication open if they choose co-parenting. This means they must inform each other about the child’s activities and needs. They also should agree on what rules the child must follow and how the child should be disciplined. Parents should avoid bad-mouthing one another or making their child play “messenger.” If parents are having trouble communicating face-to-face, they can communicate via email and text message.
In the end, parents who are seeking joint custody of their child will want to determine how co-parenting will play a role in their final parenting arrangements. Ultimately, any child custody decisions made should further the best interests of the child. Most parents want to ensure their child can grow and thrive post-divorce, and cooperating through co-parenting may be a way to ensuring this happens.