When you filed for divorce in a Colorado court, you were hopeful that even though you and your spouse weren't parting on all that great of terms, you'd be able to work out a fair and agreeable parenting plan. After all, you both love your kids, right? You were ready to be encouraging and welcoming to the idea of a close relationship between your kids and your ex, except that it all went south when he or she dropped out of the picture and deeply hurt your children's feelings.
After weeks, months or maybe even years, your former spouse suddenly wants to re-enter your children's lives. Understandably, you have kept your guard up and remain hesitant about the idea, but you also want to make sure you do what's best for your kids. Re-establishing a co-parent relationship with a parent who hasn't been around much since the divorce may be possible if you keep several things in mind.
Your children's best interests should be the main focus
It's not likely that a judge would expect you to roll out the red carpet for a parent who has been off doing his or her own thing without showing any concern for your children since your divorce. However, the following list includes ideas that might help you make some decisions and facilitate a peaceful co-parenting plan:
- It is critical to determine whether the other parent's presence would be detrimental to your kids. Would he or she show up for a few visits then disappear again, or is there a substance abuse problem or other issues causing you concern?
- You don't necessarily have to duke it out in court with your ex. There are means for negotiating parenting plans, including detailed, written terms that protect your rights and your children's best interests.
- A non-custodial parent who suddenly wants to re-establish bonds with his or her kids after being distant for some time is likely to hire an experienced attorney to advocate on his or her behalf. Most custodial parents who know what they're up against will do the same.
- While it's understandable that you might feel angry or resentful toward your ex since you've been fulfilling 100% of the parental responsibilities since your divorce, making decisions based on resentment or revenge typically winds up making matters even worse and is definitely not the best way to help your children cope.
If there's no reason to ask the court to prohibit your ex from seeing your kids, such as a concern that he or she will abuse them, then it might be time to think about negotiating a new parenting plan. It's also a good idea to ask your kids how they feel about the situation, although you as an adult should ultimately make the decisions.