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Dealing with an uncooperative ex

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Life after Separation/Divorce is hard enough to deal with without having an uncooperative partner to make it even harder.

Every facet of your life is impacted; emotional, financial, children, family and friends and not to mention the uncertainty it brings to your perceived future.

It is far better to work together in the best interests of the children as oppose to making it difficult inflicting revenge on the spouse who is exiting or the exiting partner not caring about the well-being of the family unit that has been shattered in the wake of their departure.

Emotions are running high, rational decisions and responses seem to be replaced with a tirade of verbal assault, passive aggressive behaviour or shutting down from any communication. All this does, is pour fuel onto an ever-raging bubbling inferno. Escalation ensues which is harder to defuse as time goes on.

From the onset it is far better to look at the situation and decide what is best for the children and what will create the least resistance through compromise and flexibility. Children want to be with both parents and are emotionally tormented to see their parents spitting poison at each other. To enable the children to see the parents co-operating with each other to make the best of a bad situation shows they are united in trying to reach the best possible outcome for the well-being of everyone, particularly the children.

Here are 5 tips to co-parent successfully –

1. Make the children’s needs the priority in the decision making

2. Enable the children to have a strong relationship with both parents

3. Separate how you feel about the breakup from your co-parenting responsibilities

4. Ensure there is respectful communication to minimise conflict.

5. Be a role model for the children as they are watching and learning from your behaviour

Have compassion when your ex isn’t coping with the breakup, you may be ready to move on but they may be struggling to accept it is over.

As parents we need to provide leadership and trust that the family will get through this traumatic time and transition to a new family structure providing two loving homes where the children can thrive.

There is no point arguing, taking revenge or reducing access to the kids as this just makes things worse. You need to remain calm and minimise conflict. This is how to do that if one parent is being un-cooperative –

1. If discussions become heated, reiterate the children’s needs are the priority and agree to resume the discussion when everyone is calmer.

2. Be flexible and compromise if circumstances change, as you may need the same consideration in the future

3. Be mindful about arguing in front of the children as they can feel stuck in the middle and the cause of the conflict.

4. Create a support network to help you if your ex is unreliable

5. If the legal commitments are not being followed, advise they need to be adhered to or you may need to go back to court to have them enforced

Remember, you can’t change people’s behaviour but you can change how you respond to it.

Many people come to my parenting after separation program once court ordered when their co-parenting relationship is toxic and fraught with conflict impacting the children's well being.

Parents should consider doing the parenting after separation program at the onset of separation for guidance and support on how to create two loving homes for their children to thrive.

See details here

Cheryl Duffy, Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author of The Divorce Tango

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