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Addressing unmarried child custody issues during visitation

When a relationship ends and the parties share one or more children, co-parenting can be a challenge. That said, even parents who had a reasonably amicable breakup can still encounter unmarried child custody issues as they transition into their role as co-parents. The following advice can make that transition easier to manage, and can help Texas parents work find a new way to work together to serve the best interests of their kids.

Perhaps the most important thing that a parent can do to ease tensions with their ex is to come to the realization that people rarely change. The same issues that were at play during the relationship will likely continue once the romantic bond between parents has come to an end. In many cases, if change had been possible, then the relationship may not have ended. Understanding that the other parent's behaviors and personality are likely to remain the same can make it easier to forge a path forward as co-parents.

For example, a parent who has poor communication skills will likely continue to have that issue once the relationship ends. This means that the other parent may have to take the lead in communicating scheduling changes, sending and procuring information about the child's schoolwork or other activities, and making sure that information is both given and received. It is unproductive to focus on how such a burden is "unfair," and to instead look at the ways that the kids will benefit from at least one parent sharing information.

Another example might be an ex-partner who is habitually late. When he or she has the kids, it is unlikely that punctuality is going to suddenly become routine. That may mean finding a way to ensure that the kids get to school or other important activities on time, even if that means altering the visitation schedule. It might also mean simply accepting that they might not always be picked up or brought home exactly as scheduled, and making a conscious decision not to argue over that reality.

At some point, most people realize that they are unable to change the behaviors or choices of anyone other than themselves. That can be a freeing realization, especially for Texas parents who are facing unmarried child custody issues. Making adjustments that will reduce contention and enhance visitation time can be a gift that a parent gives to their kids.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Co-Parenting Post Divorce -- Turning Challenges Into Opportunities", Karen McMahon, June 21, 2016

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