Four tips for successful co-parenting after divorce

Article authored by Jeffrey M. Leving

Following divorces, more and more people are making the decision to co-parent. This may be vital for their future relationships, as well as for their children's behavioral, cognitive and socioemotional development. Although sharing and collaborating in the goals and responsibilities of raising their kids should be in their own and their children's best interests, the challenge is not always easy. By taking certain steps, however, parents may make co-parenting arrangements a successful experience for everyone involved.

Keep it about the kids

After couples make the decision to divorce, it may be difficult for them to see each other as a team. However, for those who make the decision to co-parent, that is just what they are. Thus, when issues arise, it is important for people to do their best to look past any hurt feelings, bitterness and issues they have with their former spouses. Instead, they should ensure the focus is always on their kids' needs and well-being.

Be consistent

When raising their children together, parents generally discuss things such as the household rules, boundaries and behavioral guidelines. When co-parenting, it is just as important for parents to be on the same page with regards to what is and is not acceptable. Creating a sense of predictability and security for them, research suggests that a consistent and unified parenting approach may improve kids' well-being.

If children know their parents are unified and consistent in their rules and decision-making and are in frequent communication, they are far less likely to attempt influence them to get what they want.

Commit to communication

Ensuring everyone is on the same page can be essential for helping parents to co-parent successfully after a divorce. Therefore, people who have decided to share the parenting responsibilities should commit themselves to communicating regularly with one another. This does not mean they have to touch base directly and speak face to face or over the phone, however. Rather, they may use parenting communication websites, text messages, email or phone messages to share schedules and other important information with each other.

Expect rough patches

Even under ideal circumstances, there are likely to be bumps in the road for parents when raising their children. This is no different when they are sharing the parenting responsibilities. Recognizing that co-parenting can be challenging at times may help people move through the difficulties and make the appropriate accommodations to best serve their children. Should conflicts arise, parents are advised to listen and respect each other's opinions, talk about their needs and priorities and look for solutions based on their shared concerns.

Working with a lawyer

For parents in Illinois and elsewhere who divorce - or are married, but separated - continuing to raise their children together is in the best interests of their kids. In the face of conflict, anger and hurt feelings, however, it may be difficult for them to see eye-to-eye. Therefore, parents who are considering co-parenting may find it helpful to seek legal assistance. An attorney can aid in developing a shared parenting agreement to act as guideline, as well as assist in resolving disputes so mom and dad are able to focus on what matters most, their children.