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Wisconsin Family Law Articles

Co-parenting and the Hostile Ex

After parents divorce, ideally they will be able to get past their negative feelings towards one another and focus on caring for their children. Unfortunately, many parents struggle with getting along with each another and can find themselves at odds over even minor decisions. This problem can be exacerbated when one partner is overtly antagonistic with the other. Fortunately, even when your ex is hostile, there are ways in which you can help reduce conflict in the co-parenting relationship.

Keep Your Children Away from the Conflict

Although you cannot control how your former partner chooses to behave, you can take action to keep your children from being exposed to their negativity when they are with you.  By not speaking ill of the other parent or placing your children in the position of having to take sides, you can create a secure and safe environment for them.  However, if your ex is making comments which are harmful to your children either in or outside of your presence, you may need to discuss their conduct with counsel.

Find Ways to Communicate

Although you and your former partner may not like one another when you have shared custody and placement of children, you are going to have to communicate with one another. If one parent is unable to appropriately and respectfully communicate with the other, it may be necessary to use a third-party communication service to facilitate conversations.  Using this kind of tool allows all discussions to be completed through a separate server in a neutral environment. Using a divorce mediation resource may cause the hostile parent to be more thoughtful and careful in the use of their words and provide a safe place for the other parent to receive and give necessary information.

Set Limits and Keep them in Place

When one party is aggressive with the other, this behavior could be part of an old and ongoing pattern in their relationship.  Perhaps the hostile parent is accustomed to being forceful with their ex to get their way. The other parent is going to have to set clear and distinct boundaries with their former partner and maintain them.  Otherwise, the hostile partner will get the impression that their behavior does not have consequences. By being assertive and consistent, the non-hostile parent may build a healthier dynamic to help put a stop to unacceptable conduct.

Consider Family Therapy

Family therapy can be a vital resource to both parents and children following a divorce. Although the parents are no longer married, seeing a family counselor can be an effective means of identifying the source of the hostility in the co-parenting relationship. This process may also help the hostile parent see the impact of their behavior on his or her children. If the aggressive parent is unwilling to see someone, it may help you to talk with a counselor about your situation and identify healthy coping mechanisms.

Hostility in the co-parenting relationship can be difficult. Attorney Karyn Youso has extensive experience as a family law attorney and can help you examine your situation and consider your next steps. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let us take a “first look.”

To learn more about Wisconsin divorce law, contact Karyn Youso, the family law attorney and mediator with over 27 years of experience.