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Co-Parenting after the Divorce

Your child is going through a lot after the divorce of you and your former spouse. He or she needs both of you right now, and it's important to co-parent the best way you can. Effective co-parenting can reduce stress and make your child feel safe and loved. Co-parenting can be tricky if there is still some anger or resentment, but here are some tips and information that can help navigate this new parenting situation.

Behaving in Front of your Child

Your child should feel able to love his or her other parent. Don't talk about your former spouse in front of your child. This undermines authority and makes your child feel torn between the two of you. Co-parenting is about enabling children to have both parents in their lives. Don't think about the hurt or anger your ex caused you. Remind yourself that your ex is the mother or father of your child.

Keep interactions with your spouse shallow, only speaking about your child. If your ex says something hurtful to you in front of your child, tell your child you love him or her and leave. If you have something important about your child to tell your ex, you should call, text, or email instead.

Managing Schedules

Let your ex know about school, extracurricular activities, or other events that are scheduled for his or her time with your child. Create and enforce a visiting schedule with your ex that both of you agree on. Don't bully or be bullied over scheduling. Make compromises about holidays and birthdays. Decide if you want to have your child visit both parents these days, share them, or alternate holidays. Keep the visiting schedule consistent and reliable to reduce your child's stress.

Don't make a big deal about your child and ex being an hour late due to an activity they have shared. Be understanding; traffic happens and people can lose track of time. Maybe your ex got home from work an hour late. What if you were late next time? Treat your ex with the understanding with which you would like to be treated and relax about minor scheduling mishaps.

Agreeing on the “Big Rules”

Don't worry about small issues. You and your ex won't agree on everything. Only big rules need to be consistent. Big rules include homework, school, and curfews. Both of you should have similar consequences for rule breaking. If your ex grounded your child for a week, he or she should still be grounded at your house.

Agreeing on the “Big Decisions”

Big decisions should always be agreed on. These include budgeting, school arrangements, and health decisions like braces. Small stuff like bedtimes, junk food or allowances can be compromised on or even different at both homes. However, never give your child a later bedtime or a bigger allowance than your ex to be the "fun" parent. Always keep your child's best interest in mind.


With these tips in mind, you and your ex can co-parent with the best interests of your child in mind. If your ex seems uncooperative, give him or her time to come around. Be patient and cooperative despite your ex’s behavior, and remember that you want the best for your child. Keep calm and use this information to co-parent the best that you can.

Last Updated: August 01, 2014