Family lawyers in Pasadena have championed the benefits of co-parenting in divorced couples for years. If both parties are cooperative, respectful and flexible, co-parenting can be a great way for children of divorce to receive full attention and care from both of their parents. However, achieving harmony in co-parenting is especially difficult when an ex-spouse is verbally or physically abusive. According to experts, co-parenting with an abusive ex could be a bad idea - one that may open up a whole new set of problems.
The decision to co-parent in abusive relationships, according to a study from the University of Illinois, often is reached because of fear, economic insecurity and guilt.
"Fear was very important in the women's decisions to leave, but guilt over breaking up the family was more influential in making custody decisions," Jennifer Hardesty, who co-authored the study, says.
Therefore, many women who should have sought full custody find themselves continuing the cycle of abuse by agreeing to co-parent with an ex, experts say. Co-parenting101.org, a website devoted to helping divorcing couples find peaceful parenting solutions, says turning a blind eye to an abusive ex can be dangerous to the children left in their care.
"Let us be clear: Co-parenting successfully after divorce is best for kids, but no parent should feel compelled to support their child's relationship with the other parent at the expense of their own or the child's safety," the site says. "To succeed, a co-parenting relationship must be founded on mutual respect, not fear, and both parties must place the needs of the child first. By definition, then, successful co-parenting must be free of abuse of any kind."
In the end, an otherwise emotionally mature decision to co-parent may not be the wisest decision when dealing with an abusive ex, according to Hardesty.
"So many people think that leaving the abuser means the end of the abuse; when children and custody arrangements are involved, that is often not the case," she adds.
Before agreeing to co-parent, honest and open discussions with family lawyers and therapists should be conducted first. If you or someone you know needs help finding custody solutions with an abusive ex, please contact us today.