Parenting after divorce
Estate Planning

6 Key Steps for Conscious Co-Parenting – Part 2

Last week, we shared the first part of this series, discussing some of the key steps for conscious co-parenting. In part two, we continue with the final steps. 

Today, many married couples who decide to end their marriages choose conscious divorce. However, once the divorce is finalized, you must continue using the same positive approach in your joint-parenting efforts.

Conscious co-parenting is a child-centered process, where both you and your ex agree to work as cooperative partners for the sake of your kids. This ultimately helps both you and your children adapt in a healthier way.

Such collaboration can be challenging, but last week we offered three ways you can successfully navigate the process. Here, we continue with three additional ways to make conscious co-parenting work for you:

4. Respect your co-parent's time with the children

Conscious co-parenting is about demonstrating to your children that you still want the other parent in their lives.

To this end, don’t do anything that might stop your kids from having an enjoyable time when they’re with the co-parent. This means not scheduling children’s activities during the co-parent’s time, unless you’ve asked them first. It also means respecting their time together by not constantly calling or texting.

It’s normal to miss your children when they’re away, but it will be easier and healthier for everyone if you respect their time together.

5. Get outside support

When it comes to divorce, the experience is often painful and unsettling. The underlying emotions can be overwhelming if they aren’t processed properly, which can have negative effects on your parenting skills.

Given this, it’s crucial you have support systems in place to move through this phase of life. There’s no single solution, so try a few different supportive outlets to find the one(s) that most suit you.

Whether it’s therapy, support groups, trusted confidants, and/or meditative solitude, you should take this opportunity to practice self-care. For better or worse, our personal identities are often largely centered around our marriages, so it’s perfectly natural to go through a grieving process when they end. Just don’t let the grief become too burdensome.

6. Use conscious co-parenting to achieve personal growth

While it may sound paradoxical, divorce can offer a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. The steps discussed here can help you adjust to your new life in divorce’s immediate aftermath, but they can also allow you to better express yourself throughout your life overall.

Consciously choosing a cooperative co-parenting relationship is just the beginning. You can bring the same mindful focus to every other area of your life. Treating your co-parent in a compassionate, respectful, and patient manner can provide the foundation for how you deal with all of life’s relationships and circumstances.

By doing this, you can serve as a role model for your children, demonstrating how they can deal with adversity in their own lives. In fact, conscious co-parenting can provide them with an array of vital skills that will strengthen their ability to endure the trials and tribulations they’ll likely face in the future. 

From custody agreements to alimony payments, there are numerous legal issues that can arise when co-parenting, so be sure you have the legal support you need by consulting with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, and we can help you identify how to get the best support possible. And given the fact that your family structure has changed, you’ll definitely want to update your estate plan as well. Contact us today for assistance with any of these matters.

We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. Schedule online today.

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wills trusts and estate planning for divorce and conscious uncoupling
Estate Planning

3 Key Benefits of Conscious Uncoupling

The concept of conscious uncoupling, or conscious divorce, has been around for decades in the psychotherapy community. However, the actual term “conscious uncoupling” was thrust into the mainstream lexicon in 2014, when Gwyneth Paltrow used it to publicly announce that she and husband Chris Martin were separating. Today, we'll discuss the 3 key benefits of conscious uncoupling.

Since then, the term has been used extensively to describe what was previously called “amicable divorce” or “uncontested divorce.” In 2016, relationship expert Katherine Woodward Thomas wrote the book Conscious Uncoupling, and she now offers a five-week program of therapy designed to help individuals make a more healthy transition from marriage to singlehood.

While there’s no precise definition of conscious uncoupling, according to Thomas, it basically involves reframing divorce from a traumatic experience into one that focuses on the positive opportunities a split offers for personal growth and spiritual development. The goal is to end the relationship in a truly cooperative and respectful manner, which can have tremendous benefits for both the couple and their children.

It’s important to note that conscious uncoupling has no legal effect on the marriage. Rather, it’s about maintaining a positive mindset that seeks to mitigate the often terrible effects divorce can have on our emotions, family, and finances.

In order to actually terminate the marriage and resolve all of the legal consequences that this entails, couples must still undergo a divorce. This is one reason we often use the term “conscious divorce,” instead of conscious uncoupling.

Based on numerous reports from therapists and couples, we’ve laid out the primary benefits conscious divorce offers those seeking a more compassionate and mindful way to end their relationship:

1. Focus on the positives

Though it may seem like New Age hyperbole to reframe divorce from a traumatic experience to one that’s ultimately positive, the process of adjusting one’s perspective like this can be extraordinarily powerful. In fact, therapists who work with people at the end of life often report their patients wish they’d dissolved past relationships more amicably instead of focusing so much on the blame and pain involved.

Indeed, one of the goals of conscious divorce is to move away from the “blame game” model to one that acknowledges that romantic relationships often end for a variety of reasons, not necessarily because it was anyone’s failure or fault. Like all changes in life, the best way to deal with divorce is to accept the loss of the relationship as a simple part of life’s natural roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.

The challenge is to focus on all of the things you’ve gained through the relationship, rather than what you’re losing. You’ve undoubtedly shared some amazing times and learned a great deal from being married, and by focusing on these aspects, you can not only experience less trauma, but also be better prepared to move into your new life beyond the relationship.

2. Puts the children first

While conscious divorce seeks to minimize the pain and hostility for the couple, the most important reason behind such a mindset is to protect your children. Make your kids the motivating factor for keeping the breakup as amicable as possible.

When you’re tempted to keep arguing, choose your kids over being right. Don’t fight in front of your children, and never talk negatively about your spouse with them. No matter what happens, you will always be a family, so keep this in mind when making your decisions.

By doing this, your children are far less likely to be seriously damaged by the divorce, and it will set the stage for everyone to move on to the next chapter in their lives in a healthier manner.

3. Avoids a contentious court battle

Anyone who’s witnessed a seriously contentious divorce proceeding can attest that such public battles should be a true last resort. Not only do these courtroom dramas take a toll on a family’s mental health, but they also can drag on for months or even years, unnecessarily draining bank accounts and corrupting the marital estate.

Conscious divorce, on the other hand, can not only dramatically minimize the time, cost, and emotional toll of divorce, it lays the groundwork for the new non-traditional family to interact and function once the court proceedings are over. This is a huge benefit for establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship, and showing both your children and yourselves that marriage can still be “successful” even if it ends in divorce.

We can help you navigate the more contentious aspects of divorce in a “conscious” way by supporting you to find the right counsel to guide you. And, of course, we’ll also help you restructure your assets properly after your divorce. If you’d like to end your marriage in a more positive manner, while ensuring that your children suffer as little trauma as possible, contact us today.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to get started. If you already have a plan in place, we can review and update it to avoid similar conflicts. Schedule online today.

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wills trusts and estate planning for divorce and conscious uncoupling
Estate Planning

The Real Planned Parenthood: Platonic Parenting

Divorce can be one of the most unpleasant—and often traumatic—experiences of your life, especially if you have children. It can be even more distressing for the kids themselves. In many cases, a divorce can severely affect a child’s emotional well-being, and in extreme cases, even tear apart a parent’s personal relationship with their offspring. So, what is platonic parenting?

In light of these hardships, a new movement is sweeping the country, known as “platonic parenting.” The arrangement typically involves spouses who refrain from divorce—or get divorced but stay closely connected (even cohabitating)—in order to more effectively raise their children and reduce trauma. The couple remains highly amicable and cooperative, but ceases any romantic connection or commitment.

This isn’t about “staying together for the kids,” where couples remain unhappily married solely for the children’s sake—and which is often just as traumatic as divorce.

Platonic parenting was pioneered within the LGBTQ community, since until recently same-sex couples couldn’t legally marry, and thus were forced to create outside-the-box parenting arrangements following a romantic split. Today, many people of all genders and sexual orientation are entering into these relationships, and some believe this style of co-parenting can be just as healthy as those raised in happily married households.

Obviously, Platonic Parenting is no panacea, and the arrangement requires intense levels of trust, communication, and planning. The first step of the new partnership is for both parties to come up with a firm agreement around their financial commitments and living situation.

Other things to work out include how to handle new romantic relationships, if/how to incorporate the platonic partner into family gatherings, along with all manner of other basic ground rules. Then you must plan how you’ll discuss this with your kids and other family members, so everyone clearly understands exactly what this new life will entail.

Platonic parenting isn’t just limited to married or otherwise romantically involved couples: Numerous people of all genders and orientations are entering into such relationships.

For example, a heterosexual woman may partner with a gay man to provide a father (literally and/or figuratively) for her kids. Or maybe it’s two longtime friends of any gender combination, who are interested in starting a family but haven’t found a suitable romantic partner. There are even cases where the arrangement involves three or more platonic parents, who tag team, if you will, the immense responsibility of raising children.

With so many important agreements to be made, all parties involved are advised to seek legal counsel before creating such an arrangement. We specialize in helping you navigate these types of non-traditional partnerships. Whether you’re seeking advice on planning such an arrangement, or you need us to draft legally binding contracts, contact us today to make sure your new family is as happy and healthy as possible. Or, schedule online.

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