Author and divorcee says the key to co-parenting is considering feelings of others

Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”


Being a lawyer is a bit like being a parent, and that is not because a lawyer’s clients act like children. Some do, I am told, but some lawyers act like children too. When they do, I recall the sage advice given to me by an old attorney for whom I worked early on in my career.

Family Law Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Mecklenburg Child Custody AttorneyHe said: It’s not about you.

This simple piece of advice has saved me a lot of heartache over the years, and it is advice that I believe my clients and any parents can take to heart. Parents, like lawyers, advocate on behalf of a third party. In the case of parenting, the advocacy springs from a selfless kind of love parents naturally express for their offspring. In the case of lawyers, this advocacy is professional.

Parents involved in custody disputes—and the lawyers who represent them—often become involved in heated entanglements. These entanglements may spring from matters that arose before a legal case began, or they may spring from the legal actions one or more party has taken in a pending legal matter. In any case, I have learned that the best results are often obtained when parties to a lawsuit lower the temperature, take a step back, and consider the interests and positions of others.

This is the same advice Los Angeles-based family psychotherapist Katie Hurley has for divorced parents who share custody of children. The secret to successful post-divorce co-parenting, says Hurley, is becoming child-centered.

Deesha Philyaw, a divorcee and mother of three, wrote a book on the subject titled Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce. She said divorcees must learn to set their hard feelings aside and honor the relationship an ex-spouse has with one’s child or children. This begins with not bad-mouthing an ex and, if one can stomach it, includes encouraging a child or children to enjoy the time spent with an ex-spouse.

Philyaw encourages divorcees to keep the ugliness out of the sights and minds of impressionable children, who may not even want to know exactly what went wrong in their parents’ marriage. Instead of confiding in children, Philyaw says, divorcees should seek emotional support from professional therapists, from friends or from a support group. This saves children from having to carry the emotional weight of their parents’ divorce.

A common mistake co-parents make, says Philyaw, is introducing a new love too soon. Stepping out with a new love prematurely may upset both an ex-spouse and one’s children. While it may feel good to feel in love again, one must separate one’s own feelings from the feelings of one’s children. Children who may love and respect both of their parents—divorce notwithstanding—may feel less than enthusiastic about the introduction of a new love interest. Finding the right time—and that means allowing enough time to pass—to introduce a new love, may diffuse some of them acrimony that might otherwise ensue if a recently-divorced co-parent thrusts a new mate upon the scene while the ink is still drying on the divorce decree.

If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.



About the Author

ARNOLD&SMITH_243 3.jpgMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.






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