What Is Co-Parenting and Why Is It Important?

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Co-parenting is when two parents, who are not in a relationship, share the parenting duties for their child. Joint legal custody is very common in New Mexico, and this means both parents must communicate and work together to make joint decisions for their child. The parents must agree on everything, such as: changing the child’s pediatrician, switching which school the child attends, having the child join a church, or any other type of major decision. Due to the fact most custody cases result in joint legal custody, it is crucial for the parties to be able to co-parent effectively and get along.

Communication is key for any co-parenting situation. Communication does not always have to be face-to-face with the other parent. Communication can include phone calls, text messages, emails, or online messaging systems such as Our Family Wizard. If the parents are unable to communicate with each other, they are unable to agree and make decisions in the best interest of their child. In extreme cases where parents cannot communicate at all, the court has the ability to grant sole legal custody and decision-making power to one parent.

Generally, one parent will be the primary custodian and the other parent will have visitation rights. Even if the parents do not split their time with the child 50/50, they still have to co-parent and communicate with each other. Both parents need to be able to work together as a team as it is in the best interest of their child. When parents get along and make decisions together, their child is more likely to be successful in school and feel less stressed.

Often times a co-parenting agreement can be put in place as a guideline for the parents to follow. The co-parenting agreement can outline things such as which years each parent gets the child for specific holidays and drop off and pick up times. As time goes on and the child gets older, keep in mind the child’s needs will also change. Understand the co-parenting agreement will have to adapt to the child’s life and should be updated as the child ages.

If you are co-parenting your children and need guidance navigating the best way to work with your child’s other parent, contact a family law attorney or call our office at 505-872-0505 to schedule an appointment.