You had a fling during a business trip to Chicago and then you each returned to your lives, planning never to see one another again. Maybe you had a one-night stand, thanks to Tinder or possibly too many tequila shots, with someone you barely remember except that they left their number in your phone. Now there’s a baby, and both of you want to be involved. How do you make that work?
Co-parenting is difficult for couples who were together for many years before they split up. How do you find a way to co-parent with someone with whom you never had a relationship?
In some ways, it may be easier to co-parent when there’s little emotional baggage. However, while most co-parents have to build a new relationship focused on the well-being of their kids, you and your co-parent need to get to know each other, develop some trust and work on having a friendship. That’s probably better than trying to build a romantic relationship that may crash and burn, making it even more difficult to co-parent.
If you’re a woman, you may prefer that the father not be part of your and your child’s life. However, if he wants to be, paternity has been established and there’s no reason why the child won’t be safe with him, you’re likely going to have to accept that he will be allowed shared custody or visitation rights.
Acceptance of the situation will go a long way. It helps to recognize that you both want what’s best for your child. However, your parenting styles are likely going to be different since you’ve never parented together. What’s important is that your child is safe and well-cared-for with both of you.
Co-parents in this situation can often benefit from enrolling in parenting classes — particularly if parenthood is new for you both. It’s also a good idea to at least meet your co-parent’s family members who will have some role in your child’s life.
It’s extremely important to draft not just a custody and visitation agreement but a detailed parenting plan. This can help you establish shared goals and expectations and minimize conflict. A family law attorney can help.