Relationships After Divorce
Relationships between former spouses can be grouped into five categories. The first two are fairly positive; both parents continue to have a relationship with their children, and the disruption of the separation or divorce is minimized. In the last three categories, lack of support and cooperation between parents causes problems for both the children and the adults.
Perfect Pals are former spouses who remain friends after separation or divorce. The decision to divorce is usually mutual, but perfect pals still like and respect each other, which helps them cooperate. They do not allow anger of hurt feelings to interfere with their parenting.
Cooperative Colleagues aren’t necessarily friends, but they can cooperate and make compromises for the sake of their children. Although they may disagree over issues such as finances and child rearing, they keep their conflicts under control. Custody arrangements are more formal, but they are flexible enough to meet changing needs. There is some sharing of decision-making and child-rearing tasks, and some participation in major life events.
There are former spouses who allow their built-up anger to affect their current relationship. They are barely able to co-parent; the process is strained and difficult. They often end up arguing. There is little flexibility in their arrangements, and negotiating them brings up old pain.
Fiery Foes are so angry with each other that they cannot co-parent. Each feels the other is an enemy and focuses on perceived wrongs. Their anger never dies. Custody negotiations are a battle; support payments and visitation becomes weapons.
These are former spouses who discontinue contact after the separation or divorce. One parent, may move from the area, completely withdrawing from the former life.
By Mulroy, Sabatelli, Malley, and Waldron
Adapted by Dr. Eileen Schanel Klitsch