North Dakota refers to custody as residential responsibility. The parent with primary residential responsibility has the children a majority of the time. In North Dakota, except under certain circumstances, the parent who does not have primary residential responsibility is entitled to exercise reasonable parenting time with the minor children. More often than not, an agreement regarding the residential responsibility of the minor child is reached by the parties prior to getting the court involved. The ability of the parents to reach an agreement prior to going to court is due in large part to the Family Law Mediation Program utilized in North Dakota. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes it is necessary for the court to enter an order establishing residential responsibility. While most parents do their best to be amicable and level-headed when trying to reach an agreement, there are parents who are uncooperative or even hostile, which causes the process and subsequent interactions to be not only difficult but also challenging.
When parties have a child in common, but are no longer married, cohabitating, or in a romantic relationship with one another they have a duty to co-parent the child in common. This is not an easy thing to do, and can be exceptionally difficult, especially after what is usually an emotionally charged situation. An uncooperative and hostile parent can increase the difficulty that already comes with co-parenting. Unfortunately, a parent with bitter feelings and anger can cause several issues, it can interfere with the other parent’s ability to parent, it can influence the decision-making of both parents, and if allowed to continue it will undoubtedly affect the relationship between the parents, which in turn will likely affect the relationship between the child and the parents. It is important to stay calm during these situations and try to work the situation out amicably; however, this is not always easy. Above all, parents should remember that the child deserves to maintain a stable and loving relationship with both parents and you should do your best to facilitate and nurture this relationship, despite your feelings for the other parent.
While it is always best to obtain the advice of an attorney, here are a few tips to consider when you are stuck dealing with an uncooperative or hostile situation with the other parent.
While the parenting plan between parents provides stability and predictability as to the care of the children, it’s not written in stone and there are times when exceptions and amendments change the situation. When exceptions or amendments need to be made to a parenting plan the end result can be increased stress or in more extreme situations a complete breakdown of a once successful co-parenting relationship can occur. More often than not there is no easy fix for this situation, but it is best to be proactive with the other parent by approaching them and asking if they are able to continue to work with you to resolve the issue. This shows that you are considering what is in the best interest of the child, not the drama surrounding the situation. It is important to understand that you cannot control the other parent’s behavior, but you can certainly control your own, and keeping the lines of communication open and initiating ideas and solutions will demonstrate not only that you want to remain civil about the matter, but also that the best interest of your child is of utmost importance to you.
Don’t Involve The Children
Remember, your responsibility is to your children, not the other parent, and in order to allow your child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent it is very important that you do not involve your child in any squabbles you have with the other parent. If you choose to involve your child, the effects can be profoundly negative and can have a long-lasting impact on them and will likely make the problem even worse. Children are smart and understand much more than we, as parents, would ever like to admit and regardless of their age they will observe and form opinions of the other parent based upon what you tell them or say about the other parent. It is always best to co-parent with the other parent and leave the children out of the situation entirely.
Seek Help From A Counselor
Counseling is always an option, even if you and the other parent are separated or divorced. Co-parenting counseling can help correct or avoid hostile or uncooperative behavior. If you have a difficult co-parenting relationship with the other parent then co-parenting counseling may be helpful.
Don’t Involve Friends Or Family
In a lot of situations, parents who are no longer together continue to have several mutual friends or still remain close with each other’s family. It is important to remember that while you are close with these people, they are not necessarily concerned with what is in the best interest of your child. Involving friends and family can put them in an uncomfortable situation and trying to sway them to take sides can backfire, or worse yet, ruin your relationship with them. There are certain situations where involvement from your friends and family is essential, but if it is not, then it is best to leave them out of the situation.
When It’s Time To Call
If you ever feel like your efforts are futile, or you don’t know how to approach a difficult situation with the other parent, contact our Family Law Team at 701-297-2890 because we can help you through the difficult situation.