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How to co-parent with someone who is unreliable

In Arizona, parents often share parenting time and obligations after a divorce. Research has consistently shown that children benefit most from lack of conflict, regardless of the parenting time schedule.

This can be difficult, though, especially if you are co-parenting with someone you do not trust and on whom you cannot rely. If this sounds like your situation, read on for some tips that can make this situation a little easier and peaceful.

  1. Set expectations and rules in your parenting plan. Besides parenting time and schedules, your parenting plan should outline where and when you will exchange children, as well as reasonable restrictions on making significant changes to your child's appearance without permission. When you take the time to create a comprehensive, clear parenting plan, you can feel at ease knowing everyone has the same playbook regarding the most pressing issues. For more ideas, consult Title 25, Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-403.02(C), which provides a list of rules every parenting plan should have.
  2. Determine how to resolve conflicts in advance. You don't have to wait for a fight to erupt to decide how you will resolve it. You can agree ahead of time to pursue mediation instead of litigation, for instance, should you wind up at odds over parenting. Indeed, many judges require mediation as a mandatory first step before bringing your grievances back to court. (This would not apply in an emergency, of course.)
  3. Put everything in writing. This makes it easier to resolve questions or doubts, or politely remind your ex what they agreed to before.
  4. Pick your battles. It can be infuriating to have an ex who is always late, frequently changing plans, or simply irresponsible. While this is frustrating, try to focus on the big issues that affect you or your child instead of fighting over every disagreement, which makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Unless your ex's behavior compromises your parental rights or your child's well-being, try to avoid controversy.

Should these tips fail, or if your ex has grown seriously unreliable, you may need to take additional steps. Under those circumstances, legal guidance can be crucial.

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