When parents divorce, it’s never a case of just walking away from the relationship. Whether you’re together or not, you’ll always have to co-parent your children in one way or another. An amicable separation (or at least a civil one) provides your kids with stability and reassurance during the transition and beyond, and will make it much easier on you both as parents. Of course, it’s a lot easier said than done, but here are a few tips on finding your way to a working co-parenting relationship after divorce:
- Keep your history in the past. Divorce is about moving on. Don’t let the breakdown of your relationship affect the future with your kids. Resentment, petty disagreement, and badmouthing your ex all create a horrible atmosphere for your kids to grow up in. If only for their sake, try to move past the bitterness and keep your interactions with your ex as courteous as possible.
- Set down the ground rules. Mediation and collaborative family law are extremely useful and non-antagonistic methods of separation for parents, enabling you to complete the process out of court with the support of an experienced family lawyer. By working together with your ex and setting down some practical outlines for the future of your co-parenting relationship, you’ll be off to the best start as single parents.
- Stay on the same page. Co-parenting after a separation can take a lot of organisation and negotiation. Communication is essential, and even if you can’t face speaking directly, make sure you keep in touch by text or email so that you both know what’s going on and when each of you is meant to be looking after the kids. Avoid using your children as messengers, however – they don’t need to feel like go-betweens.
- Practise positive communication. When sorting out childcare arrangements with your ex, make requests, not demands. Apologise when you need to and try to be accommodating of each other’s needs. It’s amazing how far a bit of politeness will go. You’re both in a similar situation, so try to have a bit of empathy for one another as you work out the kinks. It also helps to take your time over a response or decision – making snap judgements when dealing with sensitive subjects can lead to unnecessary arguments which could have been avoided if you’d just taken some time to consider things from all angles.
- Be consistent. Kids of married and separated parents alike benefit from consistency in their lives. Wherever you can, set out similar rules, rewards, and routines in both households so your children aren’t constantly shifting between two worlds.
- Find an outlet. There will be times when you need to vent or rant about your ex and your situation. Being a single parent is tough sometimes, and it helps to have a friend, family member, or even a professional counsellor to talk to. Whatever you do, don’t use your child as a sounding board for negative feelings about your split. They will have their own issues with the situation and they are not your therapist!
- Look after yourself. When your ex has the children, use your spare time to recharge your batteries and enjoy some space. A bit of space can work wonders for your patience and ability to cope with the day to day stresses of parenting.
And when you really can’t sort out parenting disagreements with your ex, a family lawyer or mediation-trained solicitor can provide a valuable objective viewpoint. Whether you’re having disagreements over financial issues, education, living arrangements, or simply struggling to co-parent effectively, we can offer advice, support, and a range of family-based legal services. Get in touch to speak to our experienced family law team.co-parenting after divorce, divorce lawyer Thames Valley, divorce lawyer Windsor, divorce solicitor Beaconsfield, divorce solicitor Maidenhead, family lawyer Berkshire, family lawyer Buckinghamshire