All relationships require having rules of conduct. Sometimes these are very obvious and everyone just knows what they are.

When we meet someone and they say their name and put their hand out, we know the rule that we should say our name and shake hands. However, sometimes a person needs to be told. You might get a job and be told that it is a rule that no one can interrupt each other in a conference room. In one relationship, being a little late might not be a problem, and therefore there is no rule. In another relationship, being late might be a problem, suggesting there be a rule about being on time.

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For the post-separation coParenting relationship to work well, parents need to establish some basic rules of conduct. These usually include:

• Being courteous to each other (being on time, keeping each other informed, making requests in a respectful manner, and greeting each other cordially).

• Being honest with each other.

• Keeping agreements that are made.

• Refraining from name calling, yelling, swearing, criticizing, blaming and so on.

• Staying on topic, i.e. limiting the discussion to child-related or parenting issues.

• Respecting each other’s privacy.

• Making very clear and very explicit agreements – nailing down details.

Make a list of specific rules of conduct in addition to these that you will follow with each other. For example, if you might have some bad habits and have trouble staying on topic, come up with some ways that you can get back on topic if you get off. Make rules that will encourage you to work cooperatively with one another. Like all relationships, this is a work in progress. If the other parent does something that discourages you from working cooperatively with them, consider introducing a new rule.

Protecting the coParenting relationship is protecting your children. People make relationships safe by having rules. We have now set goals, which serve as standards for future decisions, and we have also established rules of conduct, so that we both feel emotionally safe in our coParenting relationship. After all, children cannot feel safe in their family if the parents do not feel safe with one another.

From COPARENTING TRAINING WORKBOOK For Separating or Separated Parents by Kenneth H. Waldron, PhD and Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.


About Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.

Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.Allan R. Koritzinsky is a retired partner with Foley & Lardner LLP, where he practiced in the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Estates & Trusts Practices. He was also the chair of the firm’s Family Law Team. As a family law attorney representing individual clients for over 35 years, Mr. Koritzinsky focused on divorce law, alternative dispute resolution and worked with colleagues in estate and business planning. He also has experience in tax, valuation and fiduciary litigation matters.

Mr. Koritzinsky was a leading member and fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and previously served as a member of its national Board of Governors. He is a former national chair of their Arbitration Committee and a past president of the Academy’s Wisconsin chapter. Mr. Koritzinsky also has served as chair of the Dane County Bar Case Mediation Program, chair of the American Bar Association Family Law Section’s Divorce Law and Procedures Committee, and chair of the Wisconsin Bar Association’s Family Law Section. Mr. Koritzinsky was Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system and was named a 2005 - 2008 Wisconsin Super Lawyer by Law & Politics Media, Inc. for his family law work. He was also listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for over 20 years.