5 Essential Pieces for Successful Co-Parenting After Separation & Divorce

Co-parenting has become a much more common term in recent years, compared to the “sole custody” in which the mother has traditionally maintained full responsibility for the children.  Co-parenting has a positive effect on children because it encourages fathers to have an equal (or as equal as possible) role in their children’s lives.  It also makes it easier for working mothers to maintain full-time employment, which is often necessary to pay the bills and support the family.

To succeed in co-parenting, there has to be full co-operation from the onset of the separation or divorce. A parenting agreement should be created to ensure that all parties know what is expected of them, and how decisions will be made ongoing.

The 5 essential pieces to make co-parenting successful are:

1. Live Within Close Proximity
If there is too much distance between the mother’s and father’s residence, it will be very challenging to properly co-parent.  Both parties should be close enough to the children’s school, activities, and friends, so that it doesn’t cause disruption or added stress.

2. Efficient Scheduling
The best schedule will minimize the number of times children have to go back and forth between homes, yet still provide adequate time with each parent.  Due to job demands, one parent may have to take on more than the other parent, but the goal should be to be as equal as possible keeping the best interest of the children in mind. This also allows for each parent to maintain their own social life.  Special occasions and holidays also need to be taken into consideration.

3. Respect for Each Other’s Parenting Styles
It’s rare for people to have the exact same parenting styles, so parents have to respect each other’s decisions, whether they completely agree with them or not.  This could include discipline, food choices, bedtimes, what they can watch on television, etc.  Unless there is a serious risk to the child, parents must resist the urge to criticize the other.  If something is not appropriate, this should be discussed among the parents when the children are not around. Appear as a team.

4. Acceptance of Each Other’s New Love Interests
After a separation or divorce, even if it ended on very bad terms, it can still be hard for one to accept that their former spouse has moved on and started dating or even plan to get remarried.  Parents need to refrain from putting down the new partner in front of the kids to ensure that they don’t feel like they have to pick sides.  It can create unnecessary awkwardness and anxiety, and no one needs to be placed under more stress in an already stressful situation.

5. Solid Conflict Resolution Skills
Parents need to be able to solve issues effectively and calmly.  It is a very good idea to have a mediation clause in the separation agreement, so when a problem arises, they can have someone to help them resolve it and move on.  Being able to constructively manage disputes is often a “make it or break it” in terms of a successful co-parenting arrangement.

Do you need to talk to a mediator to assist with your co-parenting plan ? Call Rahul.  He helps clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, and area.

What’s Included in a Parenting Plan?

When a couple has a child then decides to separate or divorce, the topic of “child custody” or “parenting time” has to be addressed.  The best way to approach this is to create a parenting plan, which is a written document that outlines how parents will raise their child and deal with various situations. It should have enough detail to be useful, without being so inflexible that it becomes unrealistic to implement and follow through on.

A parenting plan can help reduce conflict by outlining guidelines and expectations. Less chance of conflict means children will be able to cope better with the separation or divorce.  It can also alleviate the stress of the separation or divorce if kids observe that their parents are cooperating and doing their best to get along.

It is a good idea to consider the age of your child and how well you are able to communicate and co-parent when determining how specific your parenting plan should be.

The main areas outlined in a parenting plan include:

-> When each parent will care for the child
-> Who will make decisions going forward with regard to the children (jointly or individually, and if the other parent is to be consulted)
-> How information will be shared and communicated between the parents

Parenting plans also include how various other issues will be addressed such as:

Living arrangements and parenting schedules
Will the child live in one residence or move between two homes?
– Will the parents live within a certain distance from each other for convenience?
– What happens if one parent moves away?
– Details re: drop-off and pick-up times and locations, as well as who is responsible
– Childcare arrangements
– How children will communicate with the other parent when not with them
– How changes to parenting schedules should be dealt with

Vacations & Special Holidays
Determine which household the child will be during summer vacation and other school breaks, as well as on holidays
– Arrangements for other significant days such as birthday’s, weddings, funerals, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day

– How will decisions be made regarding medical and dental?
– Who will take the child to their appointments?
– How will parents notify each other should an emergency occur?

Decisions about where the child will go to school
– Who will attend school events and parent-teacher conferences?
– Payment and consent for school trips
– Reasons for missed days at school

– If one parent wants to travel with the child, will they give notice to the other parent?
– Is written consent required to take the child out of the country?
– Who keeps the child’s passport?
– Changes and problems with parenting plan
– What will be the process for making changes to the parenting plan?
– How will disagreements be resolved re: the parenting plan?

What types of activities will the child participate in?
– Who will pay?
– Who will provide transportation?

– Decisions re: religious denomination and activities.

– Decisions re: events, activities, language
– Grandparents and extended family
– When will visits take place?
– Who will be there?

Various other parenting issues such as safety, discipline, use of phone, diet, photographs, pets, introducing the child to new partner etc.

As you can see, a parenting plan can make the transition period from married to separated / divorced much easier, as well as serve as an excellent guideline going forward as your child grows up.

It is a great idea to consult with a Mediator or Collaborative Divorce Lawyer if you need help reaching an agreement and also to ensure that you have all of your bases covered.  Call Rahul at Clean Divorce today!