Co-Parenting 101: Three Tips for Dealing with an Unreasonable Ex and One Personal Story

Ugh. I'm sorry you're here - on this blog post. I know that you're probably like me: divorced or separated and nearing wits ends. You're just trying to figure things out and I suspect you're a genuinely good person. How is it possible that someone you once loved with all your heart now fights you on everything? How is it possible you can't seem to agree on anything? I know that you're struggling like I once did, and still do at times.

I hope this post helps you, even if just a little bit. Thank you for reading and please share this post so that others know they are not alone in their struggle.

It says something that you're taking the time to figure out how to reason with the unreasonable. It says something about you that you're trying and I commend you for that.

"You should do this" or "you should do that".

Yeah, F that.

There are plenty of those preachy posts to go around. This post is honest advice based on experience with an unreasonable ex wife.

[bctt tweet="This isn't a preachy internet post. This is real advice on how to deal with an unreasonable ex. #CoParenting #Divorce" username="dadtography"]

How I Deal With My Unreasonable Ex (Wife)

Dealing with difficulties like the one I described above can be almost too much to handle at times. Irrational and arguably damaging behavior, and that which seemingly goes against all logic, can be very frustrating.

Here are a few tips that have served me well so far when dealing with my unreasonable ex.

Tip 1 - I Look for a Work-around

Instead of rolling over or blowing up, I went looking for my own work-around to patch up the situation. I called the school and learned the details about what was required to have lunch with my son that day. I didn't get my regular 3 hours with him as our agreement provided, but at least I still got to see him on his special day and spend some quality time together.

Tip 2 - I Choose My Battles (Wisely)

This tip and the next will, at first glance, be a little bit contradictory. I could have gone ballistic when she informed me that I wouldn't be 'allowed' to see my son because of my late notice, but I kept my cool.

Escalating a situation is often not the best course of action when it comes to custody matters. Doing so will risk hurting more than your ex and can also have an impact on your children. If your intentions are pure, then your children's best interests really should be your primary concern.

Tip 3 - Stand Up For Myself

Tip 2 is not advocating being a total push-over, but instead is a 'choose your battles' recommendation. If you feel that you're regularly taken advantage of and (especially) if you think your child's other parent is making decisions that clearly aren't in your child's best interests, you should take action through the proper legal channels.

Consulting with an attorney and discussing your case is really the best way to enact permanent change in your situation.


I am Simon from Doctor Foster.

Not the actor from the show, but I am Simon in pretty much every other way you can imagine.

Co-parenting is difficult enough without the added stress of dealing with an unreasonable ex!

Co-parenting can be difficult enough without the added stress of dealing with an unreasonable ex. I know this first hand. Earlier this month I wrote a post titled, Co-Parent Dad: Tales of a Second-Class Parent that took a shallow dive into my own personal feelings about being a single dad co-parent.

Voluntarily taking a back-seat as a caring, involved father is difficult to do, to say the least - but because of the way many states' laws are written, a large number of fathers are required to do just that. My regular schedule with my son during his school year means that I don't see him for a week at a time every-other week. That's very difficult to do under good circumstances, but when there are co-parenting and communication difficulties, it can be excruciating.

I have a hard and fast rule on this site that I never post anything that 'bashes' an ex and I'll maintain that standard for myself and anyone else that guest posts on my site. The fact is that many parents - both moms and dads - have a great deal of difficulty when dealing with their ex for really no logical reason at all. How do you handle a situation when the behavior of the other party just doesn't make any sense?

My Own Personal "Unreasonable Ex" Incident (and the Reason for this Advice)

By the time this article posts my son will have turned 9 years old and I will have missed his birthday.

How am I clairvoyant, you ask?

My ex refused to allow me to see him on his birthday due to a technicality in our custody agreement. The exact wording of the section of our agreement is shown here:

Three (3) hours of visitation with the child(ren) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m during each child's birthday. The non-residential parent shall confirm to the residential parent at least ten (10) days in advance of each child's birthday of the intent to exercise this visitation. This visitation shall be awarded to the residential parent, if the child's birthday falls on a regularly scheduled visitation day.

Battling technicalities exactly like this was one of the reasons that prompted me to file for a modification. What our agreement essentially says is that I (as the 'non-residential' parent) am required to request time with my son on his birthday at least 10 days prior. If I do not make this request in time, she can refuse.

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Battling technicalities exactly like this was one of the reasons that prompted me to file for a modification and really just makes me feel like a second class parent, to be honest!

In reality, she doesn't even need a reason to say "no" since my request is just expressing my intent. In other words, I am asking her permission to see my son. This year I mistakenly forgot about the 10 day requirement and made the request only 8 days in advance. She refused to allow me to see him on his birthday because of this technicality.

I've seen him on every one of his previous birthdays (except another instance of her also refusing contact before we had any agreement in place) and my son also told me that he wanted to see me on his birthday. I can't speculate as to my ex's reasoning - she wasn't technically in the wrong, but her decision didn't only impact me but it affected my son as well. He was brought to tears at the idea of not seeing his dad on his birthday and I can't say I blame him.

What other frustrating co-parenting situations have you found yourself in? Were you able to deal with a difficult ex and move past your issues?

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