Co-parenting with a Hostile Ex-Partner

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Co-parenting with a hostile Ex-Partner 

In an ideal world divorced parents would put their emotions aside and combine efforts to raise their children and look out for their best interest. However, following divorce parents may continue to have disagreements with one another when it comes to making even minor decisions concerning their children. When a parent exhibits overt animosity towards the other parent, creating a functional parenting relationship is challenging. While co-parenting with a hostile ex-partner can be difficult there are actions which can help reduce conflict.

Find a Way to Communicate

Effective communication is vital to successful co-parenting. However, when a parent exhibits a pattern of hostility towards the other parent, finding a way to converse meaningfully can be hard. Further, exposing your children to an environment where one parent berates the other is emotionally damaging. In this situation, exchanging information in writing rather than verbally may help minimize confrontation and the children’s involvement. However, when a former partner insists on expressing their anger in text and email, it may be advisable to utilize a professional family communication method. These systems offer families services which include directing all messages to a neutral forum which is administered by a third-party. Having information sent through this medium may cause the offended party to consider their comments more carefully before sending them through an external site. Additionally, the other parent may feel more comfortable having their communications filtered through another source.

Keep the Children Out of the Conflict

Keeping parental conflict away from children can be difficult. Especially when a parent persists in making derogatory comments about the other parent in the children's presence. While you cannot always control what a hostile parent may say, you do have a choice about your own conduct. Your children are looking to both of you to create a sense of stability for them by being civil with each other. When you take the stance of maintaining neutrality and refrain from speaking ill of the other parent, you are helping to foster a secure environment for your children and a positive relationship with them. However, if the other parent is saying harmful things to the children, it may be advisable to talk with an attorney about getting the court involved.

Set Limits and Keep Them

When dealing with an antagonistic former partner, the other parent will need to set firm boundaries which they consistently keep. When a non-aggressive parent allows an adverse action to persist without saying anything they are essentially giving the aggressive parent permission to continue engaging in the behavior. By being resolute and constant in setting and maintaining limits with the quarrelsome parent, the other parent is taking an essential step towards reducing hostile behaviors.


Counseling can be a powerful tool in helping both individuals and families manage the stress which accompanies divorce. If the hostile parent is open to seeing someone, the family therapy process could help alleviate some of the problems in the parenting relationship. Family therapy may also help the parent see how their conduct is negatively impacting the children. If the antagonistic parent will not see a counselor, it may still be beneficial for you and your children to elicit therapeutic support to help develop coping mechanisms and process emotions.

Parenting after divorce can be challenging, and in some cases, a parent's hostility can create an unhealthy environment for everyone. If you are having problems co-parenting due to your former partner’s negative behavior, it may be necessary to return to court and make changes to your time-sharing and parenting plans. At the Draper Law Firm, we have experienced family law attorneys who can help you evaluate the situation and determine what steps you need to take to protect your children. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.


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