Parenting with a co-parent that’s scarcely there can be downright spooky, possibly making you like a single parent. So how do you handle co-parenting with a ghost? Here are some tips to keep you and your children grounded, even if you ex floats in and out of the picture.

Encourage Time

Though the time your ex is willing to give your children may be scarce, you should encourage your children to take the time that’s offered. Generally, a limited relationship is better than no relationship at all.

Try to not say negative things about your ex not showing up to events. Even though you may be frustrated at the constant no-shows, your children are probably feeling hurt enough without hearing unfavorable remarks about their other parent.

While you shouldn’t make negative comments about the other party, it’s also not your responsibility to make excuses for them. You don’t need to come up with an explanation for why your ex is absent, simply tell your child they were informed of the event but weren’t available.

Live Your Life

Don’t be afraid to build a life with your children. Waiting for your ex to take their awarded time shouldn’t hold up your life or that of your children. Don’t avoid making plans simply because there is a 10% chance your ex will show up for their parent time. It may be a good idea to text your ex an hour or two ahead of their visit and ask if they are coming so you can make arrangements. Be flexible in making your plans. If your ex shows, encourage time, but if they don’t, go through with the plans you’ve made and enjoy the extra time with your children.

Keep a tracking log of your ex’s inconsistency for parent time in case it’s ever needed. Just because your ex has chosen not to create memorable experiences with your children doesn’t mean that you can’t.

Let It Go

You may often feel like you are stuck in a game of good cop bad cop with your children, but in time your children will grow to recognize that you were always there, they will also come to recognize your ex’s lack of effort. It can be aggravating that you are the parent involved in day to day struggles such as homework, chores, discipline, etc., while your ex is not. They may fuel your frustration by riding in on their white horse and showering your children

They may fuel your frustration by riding in on their white horse and showering your children in gifts and false promises. While this can be difficult, stay the course. Your day to day dedication to your children will mean more in the long run than the occasional showers of gifts. As your children grow, they will come to see that. Be careful to not allow yourself to never be the “fun” parent. Your children should know there are expectations and

Be careful to not allow yourself to never be the “fun” parent. Your children should know there are expectations and routines, but don’t feel like you can’t cut loose and have fun simply because you have to be the “responsible” parent all the time.

Dealing with a co-parenting poltergeist can be difficult. Your ex’s actions are not something you can control, but the way you choose to handle the situation and how it impacts your children is. Instead of focusing on where your ex is lacking, focus on all that you can do for your children. If your ex continues to not follow parent time or other terms of your order as outlined, you may need to consider making a change in custody or seeking contempt.

The attorneys at Burton Law are experienced in the aspects of family law and can assist you with modifications to your decree or filing for contempt. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys. Family Law, it’s all we do.


Ken is the founder of Burton Attorneys at Law and finds the challenge of practicing law extremely rewarding. Although Ken has a broad assortment of experience ranging from bankruptcy to civil litigation to criminal law, Ken’s practice is tailored almost exclusively to the area of family law.

He chose to practice in the family law arena because of the positive and direct impact for good he saw in the lives of his clients.

Having twice been named one of Utah’s Legal Elite by Utah Business Magazine, Ken has a solid reputation as an effective advocate for his clients. He is actively involved in local and state bar associations, serves on various boards of directors and with volunteer organizations, and as a mentor for newly admitted attorneys.

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