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Following divorce, ex-spouses can provide their children with a greater level of stability while also allowing them to build beneficial relationship with both of their parents by sharing custody. To form an advantageous co-parenting relationship, parents must strive to put aside their personal relationship issues and do what’s best for their children.  

Guidelines to follow 

Soon after their divorce is finalized, parents should sit down and make a plan that meets the needs of their individual children. This should include how visitation time, holidays and other special occasions will be handled. For example, a couple who has a child who is 11-years-old, has strong ties with her school and is heavily involved in extracurricular activities may alter their co-parenting plan to allow her to stay in the same school and continue to participate in the same activities she enjoys.

Additionally, while developing their child custody plan, parents should agree upon behavioral guidelines and boundaries they will use for raising their children to promote consistency. For instance, parents should determine at what time their children need to be in bed every night, when meals will be eaten, how homework will be taken care of in the evenings and how discipline should be handled.

Parents should also continue to communicate actively about each of their children’s development, recognize that their children may try to test the boundaries of their new situation after the divorce and commit to conducting themselves with emotional maturity when conflicts arise. 

What to avoid 

To ensure their co-parenting plan is successful after divorce and that they are able to maintain a healthy relationship for their children, parents should avoid the following practices:

  • Prohibiting their children from seeing their other parent during their assigned time or speaking negatively about their ex-spouse in their children’s presence
  • Forcing their children to side with one parent when a conflict or challenge arises regarding scheduling
  • Trying to become their children’s favorite by satisfying material desires during assigned visitation times
  • Using their children to find out information about their ex-spouse or manipulating them to act a certain way in the presence of their other parent
  • Depending on their children for emotional support to an extreme level due to feelings of hurt or loneliness 

Although it may be ultimately beneficial for their children, parents may find that maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship can be extremely challenging following their divorce. Parents who are concerned about the effects of sharing custody with their ex-spouse may benefit from speaking with an attorney who can provide guidance and support during the creation of their parenting plan.