Good co-parenting helps kids feel safe, cared for and calm in a divorce. But successful co-parenting doesn’t just happen. It takes conscious effort. Here are tips and tools to help you and your former spouse on your journey.
Prioritize good communication
Clear, thoughtful communication with your ex is important. Talk about any issues 1:1 with your ex instead of in front of your children, don’t try to undermine your ex in front of your child, and speak directly with your former spouse instead of making your child be the messenger.
Create a co-parenting plan
Having a thorough co-parenting plan can help avoid conflict. Work through topics like pick-up on transition days, your kids’ healthcare costs, and how to handle holidays. Consider working with a mediator to develop a solid plan, and revisit the plan as your kids grow older.
It’s normal to have hard feelings after a divorce, but maintaining respect for your ex is key. Afterall, you still need to parent your kids together! Treat your ex-partner like you would a colleague. This can help you get and stay in the right mindset for successful co-parenting.
Help your kids feel empowered
Give your kids a say. For example, you can let them decide what house to keep belongings at, even if it’s something you bought for them. Giving your kids agency can help them feel in control and calm during this difficult time.
Keep a shared calendar
Use a collaborative app or online tool where you and your former partner can keep track of events and schedules. This can help avoid upsetting miscommunications.
Prepare for different parenting styles
Your spouse will have different house rules surrounding bedtime, diet, TV time and more—and that’s okay. You can’t control how your ex parents, but you should work to align larger issues like education, extracurriculars and how to treat other people.
Always put your kids first
Nobody wins when kids are put in the middle of an argument. Even though it’s hard when you’re feeling emotional, always put your kids first in all conversations with your former partner.
Keep good documentation
Keep good notes on schedules and communications. Document date, time, content and any witnesses to questionable interactions. This can make a big difference should you need to take further legal action over custody or visitation.
Turn to therapy
If you or your kids are struggling with the big emotions brought about by divorce and co-parenting, try therapy. Talking to a neutral party can go a long way in helping your or your kids sort through feelings in a healthy manner.
Recommended co-parenting resources:
UpToParents is a co-parenting website that provides a lot of helpful, free resources in both English and Spanish. It’s won awards from the American Law Association and Academy of Professional Family Mediators, so you can feel confident in their advice.
Apps like OurFamilyWizard can help facilitate communication between you, your spouse and your kids, and also help you keep track of schedules and expenses.
Apps like iMazing that help you track and organize communication
iMazing allows you to export all texts in a conversation. This can be a helpful tool for building your case for custody and visitation hearings.
TED Talks and other Youtube videos
Many people have gone through divorce and coparenting and you can learn from their experiences. Videos like this one have great co-parenting lessons and observations, and you can find more videos via TED or YouTube.
College and university courses
Many local colleges and universities offer in-person and online co-parenting courses that provide helpful information and solutions. These courses are often recognized by courts and are sometimes even required in contentious divorce cases.
This guide includes links to third-party websites and products. This inclusion is not an endorsement of any third-party, or their services or products.