Many separated parents struggle to co-parent amicably after a separation. It has to be recognised, firstly, that parenting when a couple are happy and together can often be difficult at times so, after separation, it can become even more challenging.
This is particularly the case where couples have different approaches to parenting or have taken on different roles in caring for their children during the relationship. Those differences which can compliment each other when they are parenting as a couple can become very challenging when they are no longer together.
To parent amicably and effectively, the key word is “communication” which becomes even more important when you are separated co-parents. You are starting a new journey and you need to be able to work together and to do so respectfully and amicably.
Your children should always be placed first, so it is what is in their best interests and which may not always align with how you feel. Often separated parents are at different stages of the grief cycle and it can be very hard to put your own feelings of anger, guilt or sadness to one side but you have to try to do so for your children’s sake. There is no place for the blame culture when it comes to arrangements for your children.
Good organisation becomes ever more important when parents are separated particularly if children are moving between homes whilst attending school or clubs and activities. So, try to keep in contact about their arrangements and needs by regular text, email, phone or indeed one of the many apps that are now available for families to organise their lives. Some families find a contact book which goes with the child or children at handover is useful for keeping up to date on every day aspect suh as homework or appointments.
Respectful handovers are so vital if possible. Provided there are no safety concerns then try to keep the handovers friendly. If your children witness you as their parents engaging in poor behaviour this impacts upon them hugely and it can become very difficult indeed for them not to be affected by this.
Mediation is a really good way for separated parents to discuss arrangements for their children in a neutral and supportive atmosphere and this can often help them on the right path to co-parenting as separated parents.
Certainly as family lawyers we recommend mediation, round table meetings or the collaborative law approach to resolve issues around your children. Without doubt the court process is to be avoided at all costs. It is expensive, stressful and invariably creates deeper tensions between separated parents. Court orders are rigid and children and their arrangements are not so often, what works as a court order for a few years, becomes out of date further down the line when the children and their needs have changed.
If you would like to have advice on the subject matter of this article please do contact a member of the family law team and you can hear our Emma Palmer speaking on the subject in more detail soon in our new video series.