7 Tips For Dealing With A Toxic Co-Parent

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Co-parenting is a delicate situation for most. There is a lot of potential for strife and disagreements even in the most functional co-parenting relationships. However, there are also situations in which one parent will try to harass, manipulate, control or threaten the other, which makes for a toxic co-parenting dynamic. What options does a person have when they are stuck raising a child with a hostile person?

The divorce and custody lawyers at Youngblood Law, PLLC, understand the stresses of co-parenting and have suggestions for what to do when one parent is less than cooperative. Here are some tips on some strategies you can use to de-escalate these situations and protect yourself and your child!

Co-Parent Toxicity And Bad Behavior

Following a divorce and a child custody arrangement, there can be some lingering resentment and bitterness from one party, and they might attempt to lash out at your through multiple levels, which might include:

  • Trying to deny you time with your child
  • Trying to turn your child against you, aka parental alienation
  • Threatening, stalking, or harassing you
  • Criticizing you and your parenting style
  • Spreading lies about you to mutual friends or to the court

If you are facing any of this type of behavior from your co-parent, you have options. Below are a few methods you might employ in order to de-escalate and potentially eliminate this bad conduct.

#1: Don’t Retaliate

It is best for your child that you do not stoop to the level of your co-parent, no matter how appealing it might seem. Keeping a clear head under pressure can help you in the long run even though things are stressful right now. Your child will thank you for not putting them in the middle of a battle between the two of you. Resisting the urge to retaliate, also, will prevent your co-parent from accusing you of acts of aggression should you decide to involve them in legal action. Instead of retaliating, you can focus on the needs of your child so that they do not feel that they are caught in the middle of a hostile situation.

#2: Documentation

Keeping a record of incidents of bad behavior and saving messages that are harmful or threatening can help you build a case that will allow you to take measures such as a restraining order or a custody modification. If you are being harassed, stalked, or threatened, you should save any messages or write down any incidents. If you feel that this behavior might escalate, contact law enforcement. If nothing else, you can file a police report that will further document your ex’s bad behavior.

#3: The Gray Rock Method

If your co-parent is trying to get a rise out of you with their behavior, one method you can use is known as the gray rock method. When you “gray rock” somebody, you give the most basic, boring responses to their goading so that they lose interest in trying to earn a reaction out of you. For some people, when you deny them the attention they are seeking, you take away their power, and they might decide to leave you alone.

#4: Written Communication

If your co-parent is harassing you or being inappropriate with you, you can potentially set a boundary that only allows communication if it is written. This method will be handy to you if you are trying to gather documentation related to bullet point number two. Even if it is not helpful in allowing you to document bad behavior, it can curb harassment because some people are more inclined to be careful about what they put into writing, especially if they are aware that the texts could find themselves on the desk of a custody lawyer.

#5: Restraining order 

For cases of severely toxic behavior that make you feel afraid for the safety of yourself or your child, you can seek a restraining order against your co-parent. If your co-parent is threatening or harassing you, your lawyer can help you file a restraining order. There are types of restraining orders that can become effective immediately and, though they eventually expire, they will give you time to gather evidence and prepare your case for a long-standing restraining order. Since a restraining order can mean that the custody arrangement is modified in your favor, you will likely only be granted one if you can prove that you will be in danger without one. Keep in mind, also, that restraining orders can be violated and might not be an effective means of protection from someone who means to do you harm.

#6: Custody modification

You can file for custody modification for many different reasons. For example, if your ex has not been sticking with the co-parenting schedule and has actively taken measures to prevent you from having your time with your child, you can file for a custody modification. There are many other circumstances in which custody can be modified, so check with your lawyer to see if your co-parents behavior warrants petitioning to rearrange your schedules.

#7: Mediation / Support From A Third Party

If you and your co-parent are having legitimate disputes, mediation from a third party can be a helpful option for having your differences resolved. Input from an uninvolved, professional person can help you and your co-parent see your situation from a new perspective and give you the tools to resolve your differences and strengthen your parenting dynamic.

Contact Youngblood Law, PLLC, For Your Custody Questions And Concerns

Whether you are seeking an initial custody arrangement or modifying an existing custody arrangement, the lawyers at Youngblood Law, PLLC, have the knowledge and experience to help you. We understand your concerns about losing time with your child and about potential bad behaviors from your co-parent, so we will always prioritize working with you to fight for the arrangement that will be best for you and your children. Reach out to schedule a free initial consultation and learn how we can help you arrange a new life for you and your kids.

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