According to a report from OnlineDivorce.com in New York, which is the leading American online divorce company, almost 35% of all divorces involve minor children from the marriage. The reason for this is that more than 70% of divorces occur during the first 15 years of marriage.

This means that building a relationship with your former partner and meeting the best interests of the children becomes a necessary task for many. And constructing a generally acceptable scheme for such a case should be gradually developed.

Divorce is Adaptation

Breaking up is difficult, even if it was you who made the decision. Both spouses need time to adapt to their new reality. Your old habitual way of life is first shattered, and only then can a new one arise.

Nowadays, among spouses who have children, civilized separation is becoming an increasingly common concept. In most US states, there is a presumption that co-parenting, joint custody (both legal and physical), is in the best interests of the child. So, according to statistics, in half of the US states, the majority of parents share custody of the child 50/50. And though mothers are still more likely to receive primary custody over the fathers, during the last decade, fathers have been gaining significantly more custody time each year.

For couples who manage to arrange an amicable divorce and share custody, though living separately, both parents take a full part in the child's life. The parent who is not the residential custodian, meets with the child, provides support, keeps up with health and everyday events, offers assistance when needed, and spends significant time with the child. Ex-spouses communicate smoothly. If the parents start new families into which new children are born, it does not harm anyone. Everyone communicates with everyone, celebrating birthdays, or even going on vacation. For some, this sounds like fiction, right? But how do people achieve this in real life?

The answer is simple and very complicated at the same time. The thing is that these spouses managed to work together and meet each other halfway.

His and Her Truth

So, imagine a segment, and at its end there are figures of a woman and a man. They each stand at their own point named "My Truth." The points are different, but the names are the same. In the middle, between the man and woman, is another point named "Best Interests of the Child.” To meet at the “Best interests of the Child,” they have to move towards each other. They meet in the middle to be the kind of parents that the child can count on for support. Peaceful divorce and co-parenting is not easy. Each parent has to give up something to make it work.

Each partner should ask themselves: "What suits me and what does not? What is acceptable for my partner, and what will he or she not agree to?" Usually, this happens at the stage of negotiations after the spouses have already decided to divorce without contesting the case.

For example, the woman says: "I cannot let a child go to your new family, even for a couple of hours." Such an attitude is not always about pressure and manipulation. Perhaps, at least for the moment, this is really intolerable to her. Or the man says: "I cannot meet with the child in the house we all used to live in together." It is worth considering that it may hurt him to be there or quarrels may arise during these visits.

Some formats are not suitable for one or both parents. But some can be agreed upon. It is not about bending to the pressure of the former spouse. The idea of halfway is about respecting yourself, your principles, and boundaries. This helps you to meet in the middle without going too far. And respect for your partner is manifested in the fact that you try to hear his or her opinion. A respectful attitude helps pull both spouses to the middle. This is how each of you makes it possible for the child to still have both parents.

What Prevents You From Moving Forward?

Right after parting, emotions usually rage. An efficient negotiation during this period is difficult. If you are still at this stage, do not blame yourself for not being able to act "as a sane person." You just cannot yet. The main thing is to not spoil the relationship with your ex even more so as to not do harm to the child.

At this stage, there can be grievances, refusal to communicate, or even a desire to take revenge. It is important to realize that it won’t always be like this. Also, paradoxically, the "support team" (relatives, friends, and acquaintances) may interfere with meeting your spouse halfway. Your friends want to increase your self-esteem and support you; however, since emotions are still very raw, this is often done through the devaluation of the partner. If it lasts too long, it is no longer useful.

One of the former spouses may still be in a stage of grieving and not want to communicate. If they are angry about the situation, they may want to take revenge, which nullifies reconciliation efforts, especially if they insist on not giving up anything in the divorce.

When Enthusiasm is Excessive in Co-Parenting

If you are very motivated to reach an agreement, while your spouse stands still, then you may let yourself go much closer to 100%. According to the earlier scenario, this will not be the "Best Interests of the Child" point. It will be the "My Truth" of the second partner. And this "truth" is hardly suitable for you. You will have to sacrifice your principles, opinions, and plans. Borders will be broken and respect will be lost. Saying no about certain things to meet in the middle may make you feel bad, but it is better than agreeing to things that are unacceptable to you and will cause pain to you and your child in the long run.

Trying to go 100% of the way on your own is bad for everyone. When one parent manipulates or imposes their authority, the other parent suffers or pulls away. The child cannot be calm in this situation. It is difficult for children to adapt to new situations. He or she may misbehave, abandon their interests, have conflicts with peers, or even begin to have health-related issues.

In general, there is no single answer for everyone. Passing your 50% may be unavoidable. At a minimum, if you are near the "Best Interests of the Child" point, it is unlikely to go unnoticed. If you feel guilt, you may ask yourself: "Have I done my best to come to the point where I am ready to act in the best interests of the child?" But remember, you cannot act for another.

Do not place the comfort of getting rid of guilt above respect for your partner and child. Everyone moves at their own pace, and it is much more likely that your former spouse will want to make contact with you and the child later if you do not violate his or her boundaries or try to call the shots.

What do you get as a result?

What do you get as a result? The feeling that you both coped with a difficult task. The ability to negotiate and coordinate in any situation - from summer vacations to medical treatment. A child who has peace of mind and understands that separation is not the end of a relationship, only a new format.

So the most healthy option is when each partner is doing their part. This is quite tricky since you need a lot of goodwill for the person who hurt you. You need strength to defend your boundaries and accurately indicate what is unacceptable and what is suitable to you. You need peacefulness to find out what does and doesn’t suit your partner. And respect is crucial to be able to put everything together. Both partners have to agree for the sake of the children. You both need to find out what is not suitable for the other. It may not be forever, but for now it is, so respect that.