Co-parenting is when two parents work together to help raise a child after a separation or divorce, with each parent taking an active role in the child’s life. While co-parenting after divorce can be a challenging prospect for parents, it is an excellent arrangement in terms of providing your child with a stable, supportive environment as they come to terms with the divorce and move into the future.
The nature of your relationship with your ex-partner when co-parenting is likely to have a strong impact on your child. Research has found that a functional co-parenting arrangement has a positive impact on children’s psychological adjustment post-divorce, meaning that they are more able to cope with their updated familial situation in a healthy manner.
Here, we share our tips for successful co-parenting after divorce:
Create a Clear Co-parenting Arrangement
When embarking upon co-parenting after divorce, it is important to create a clear parenting arrangement, which can include details such as:
- Where the children will live;
- When the children will spend time with each parent;
- Where the children will attend school;
- How the children will be financially supported
If both parties agree on a parenting arrangement, it is advisable to create a parenting plan or a consent order. A parenting plan is a written agreement outlining your care plan, which does not have to be witnessed and is not legally enforceable. On the other hand, a consent order is a legally binding agreement (or parenting plan) which requires approval by the court.
If you and your ex-partner are unable to agree on a parenting arrangement, you can apply to the court for a parenting order which is legally enforceable. There are numerous considerations the court will take into account when ruling on a potential parenting order, including what is in the child’s best interests as well as any potential family violence issues.
It’s worth noting that people who play an important role in a child’s life who may not necessarily be parents, such as grandparents or other relatives, can also be included in parenting plans.
When creating a parenting plan or consent order to approach co-parenting after divorce, you should seek appropriate legal advice in formulating the arrangement.
Try To Set Your Emotions Aside
Divorce often entails a rollercoaster of emotions, as both parties experience stress, exhaustion and anger. The process of separation can be draining and complicated, so it is completely natural to feel frustrated and highly emotional in the period following a divorce.
However, when it comes to successful co-parenting after divorce, it’s important to not let your behaviour be dictated by negative emotions and instead to focus on what’s best for your child. Remember that your child’s wellbeing is your priority, and you should not let grievances between you and your ex-partner lose make you lose focus of that goal.
As tempting as it may be, avoid venting your frustrations about your ex-partner to your child, or putting your child in the middle of an ongoing conflict between you and your ex-partner. Your child should not feel like they have to ‘choose’ between parents in a conflict.
Work with Your Ex-partner as a Team
After a divorce, it is common for there to be some acrimony in the air. Divorces can be painful proceedings, and the thought of working together with your ex moving forwards might seem like the last thing you want to do.
Despite this, it is important for the sake of your child’s wellbeing that you develop a cordial relationship with your ex-partner which allows you to work in tandem to create a stable and nurturing environment for your child.
Bear in mind that divorce can entail the risk of behavioural issues for affected children, as well as potentially causing your child stress, anxiety and confusion. Obvious conflict when it comes to your co-parenting after divorce will only increase this stress for your child, so you should establish clear and peaceful communication patterns with your ex-partner which allow you to act as true co-parents.
Keep each other in the loop when it comes to important issues concerning your child’s wellbeing such as medical problems, and know when to compromise when it comes to potentially smaller issues such as bedtimes.
Be flexible, take your ex-partner’s opinion seriously and develop a relationship based on respect and a shared commitment to your child’s mental and physical health.
Speak To a Lawyer About Co-parenting After Divorce
A co-parenting arrangement will have a direct and lasting impact on your child’s wellbeing, so you should contact a lawyer to ensure that your parenting plan guarantees the best chance of a positive outcome for your child.