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Navigating co-parenting in a high-conflict divorce

When parents in Michigan decide to divorce, the next step is often moving to co-parenting. In a high-conflict situation, this can be a deeply problematic transition. Children often have strong emotional needs after the divorce, and absent a context of abuse or neglect, kids tend to benefit from a relationship with both parents. In a custody case, the primary consideration is the child’s best interests, not the relationship between the parents. However, navigating a co-parenting relationship can be highly challenging, especially if one partner is manipulative, selfish or narcissistic.

Ex-spouses can take certain steps to help to guard themselves and their kids from further emotional harm. In many cases, strong boundaries are important to any kind of positive movement forward. Parents may need to declare that they’ll only communicate about the children. They may need to bar conversation about their personal lives and speak up if they find out the former spouse is attempting to garner details from the children about dating, new relationships or other out-of-bounds topics.

There are several apps and portals that can help parents in high-conflict situations discuss child custody, visitation and parenting decisions. These filtered portals help to facilitate family communication without unnecessary arguments. In some cases, courts will order the using these apps as part of the child custody agreement. Even in less high-conflict situations, parents can benefit from blocking former partners on social media.

In some cases, however, a former partner’s behavior may be so toxic that it is harming the children or undermining the custody order or divorce decree. A family law attorney could help a parent return to court to seek a child custody modification or revised court order.