Parenting duties often aren’t equally split between married spouses. It is common for one spouse to perform more of the child-rearing obligations than the other. If you have always been the primary caregiver in your family, it’s only natural to worry that your ex may not have the right skills to take care of your kids after the divorce.

The courts will usually try to share custody between parents, which means that your ex will have to figure out the skills they don’t currently have and learn to step up as a parent. While many divorced parents actually strengthen their parenting skills after the divorce, some people aren’t capable of handling the stress of parenting of their own.

They may start to lash out at or even abuse your children. What are some warning signs that your ex can’t handle their shared custody obligations?

Warning signs of abuse in a co-parenting arrangement

It can be hard to know what happens when your ex has custody of your kids, especially if you want to respect their relationship and not pry too much, which can be difficult for the kids to endure. However, if your kids come home in quiet or depressive moods, if they have bruises or torn clothing, or if they report mistreatment at the hands of your ex, you may have to have an uncomfortable conversation with your children and then with their other parent.

Frustrated parents who haven’t learned how to manage discipline issues might resort to physical violence out of frustration. It’s also possible that children who aren’t used to having one parent discipline them exaggerated the situation because they are unhappy with the change in the dynamic.

It can be difficult to balance the version of events told by your children with the version provided by your ex. It is likely a good move to document your concerns, ranging from photographing bruises to taking screen captures of abusive messages sent to your teenage children.

Documented co-parent abuse can help you modify your custody arrangements

You can’t just go to the courts and claim abuse in the hope of getting more parenting time, but you can use actual abuse that occurred in your ex’s home as grounds for requesting a custody modification.

The court should always prioritize the best interests and safety of your children, which could mean that they give you full custody or that they order your ex to go to therapy or complete parenting classes.