Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
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Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.

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If you’re forced to co-parent with a manipulative ex

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Child Custody |

The courts don’t always “get it right.” In their quest to uphold the rights of both parents, judges may unintentionally safeguard the rights of a parent who may not be fit, or who may simply not be an emotionally healthy individual. If you’re sharing parenting rights to your child with a manipulative ex – who may or may not be an outright narcissist – you’re all too aware of this reality. 

Employing a variety of potentially effective strategies and maintaining a focus on your children’s well-being can help you to navigate this complex dynamic as successfully as you can.  

Establish clear boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is essential when co-parenting with a manipulative ex. Define what is acceptable to you when it comes to terms of communication and involvement in your personal life. Stick to these boundaries consistently to prevent manipulation. 

To that end, when communicating, maintain a professional tone and focus on factual information regarding the children’s needs, schedules and activities, as your ex will likely seize on any opportunity to get a rise out of you. 

Consider sticking to written communication methods, like email or messaging apps, when possible, as doing so can provide a clear record of interactions and minimize opportunities for manipulation. Documenting everything can help to protect you if disputes arise, as documentation can serve as evidence if legal intervention becomes necessary. 

Crafting a detailed and structured parenting plan can minimize opportunities for manipulation and help you to enforce boundaries on your own behalf, and on behalf of your kids. Include specific provisions regarding parenting time schedules, holiday arrangements, decision-making responsibilities and dispute resolution methods. A well-defined plan leaves less room for interpretation and manipulation.

Dealing with a manipulative ex can be emotionally and logistically draining. If you become overwhelmed and/or have questions about your options, don’t hesitate to seek personalized guidance.