Armstrong Law, P.C.

What to do about a difficult coparent

When parents in Massachusetts get a divorce, they may still be linked for years by their children. If one parent is narcissistic and manipulative, this relationship can be very difficult. Parents need to find a way to be reliable for their children and not let the other parent's behavior get to them.

In order to do this, parents must set boundaries. They are not obligated to respond to the other parent's messages immediately. Furthermore, they do not have to respond to anything that is not directly about the children. Parents should notice how their arguments start and escalate and learn to disengage before this happens. Many parents set specific limits on what medium can be used to communicate. For example, they might only respond to emails but not to text messages. There are also online portals and other tools that can be used to facilitate communication between parents after divorce. One advantage is that they document that communication. Parents not using these tools should consider doing their own documentation.

Despite a parent's best efforts, effective co-parenting may not be possible. The parent may need to return to court to have the custody agreement modified. Another option might be for the parent to switch to what is known as "parallel parenting," in which parents engage as little as possible.

During the child custody process, parents may want to try mediation even if they are in a great deal of conflict. This can keep them from going to court and works toward a resolution of both parties' concerns, unlike the adversarial atmosphere of litigation. It might also lay the groundwork for a more functional co-parenting relationship. However, it does require the cooperation of both parents, and if one is not willing to do so, litigation might be the only solution.

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Armstrong Law, P.C.
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