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How do you co-parent with someone you don’t know well?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Child Custody |

When people use the term “co-parenting,” they’re typically referring to divorced couples or maybe couples in long-term relationships who have gone their separate ways but are both continuing to parent their child. Some co-parents, however, didn’t have a serious or long-term relationship. However, they have a child together and they both want to be part of that child’s life.

If that’s the co-parenting situation you’ll be dealing with, there’s a lot to consider, starting with establishing paternity. It can be done with a Certificate of Parentage in New Jersey. This is necessary to begin the process of establishing child support obligations and a custody agreement.

Here, we’ll just deal with the challenges of co-parenting with someone you don’t know very well. In one sense, that can make things easier that they often are for divorced co-parents. If you didn’t have years to accumulate resentments or go through a messy break-up, working out a custody arrangement can be easier.

Sharing your child with someone you don’t know well, however, can be frightening. Further, if this is the first child for both of you, you’ll be learning how to be parents and co-parents at the same time. Here are a few things that can help.

Get to know your co-parent

Building a trusting, amicable relationship is important. If romance is off the table, spend some time together just talking about your lives, values and goals. Find out about each other’s families, since they’ll likely be part of your child’s life as well. Getting co-parenting therapy can help structure these conversations.

Share some parenting time

Don’t do all of your parenting separately, at least early on. Sharing birthdays, holidays and other “firsts” for your child can be healthy for everyone. It’s also good to be able to see what the other one is like with your child.

Determine where you agree and disagree on raising your child

All co-parents do things differently. You’ll both need to learn to live with the fact that you’ll each do things differently in your homes and respect those differences — unless your co-parent is doing something that could harm your child, of course. 

Of course, co-parenting a baby is much different than a school-age child or teen. Your parenting plan will change as your child grows up and as your lives change. 

As noted, getting co-parenting counseling, even before the child is born, is a good idea. However, it’s important for you to have separate legal guidance as you work out support, custody and other agreements.