Co-Parenting After Divorce: Here's What You Need to Know

Divorce is never easy, but these tips can help you with co-parenting as you move forward.

Whether you're just starting to consider getting divorced or you're in the middle of separating from your partner, it's no secret that divorce can be complicated. Dividing your assets, selling a home, and financially separating your lives can be quite challenging. If you have children together, the process of divorce becomes even more lengthy and tricky. One of the most important things to consider during the divorce process is how you and your former spouse will navigate the world of co-parenting. Whether your children are toddlers or teenagers, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you and your former spouse are able to co-parent your kids in a way that is healthy and effective. Here's what you need to know.

First off, make sure you communicate carefully with your former spouse. Even though the two of you may have irreconcilable differences, having children together means that you must find ways to talk with one another. You cannot co-parent effectively if you cannot even speak to one another. Avoid talking about sensitive issues or previous arguments. Once you've chosen to get divorced, those fights are in the past. There doesn't need to be a winner or a loser. One person doesn't need to be "right." Instead, find ways to communicate that center on your kids. If speaking face-to-face is simply too hard, consider scheduling phone calls so you can discuss your kids or even communicating through texting or emails. No matter how you communicate, make sure it's in a way that you can both benefit from.

It's also important that you speak with your kids about their desires. Talk with your children about where they want to live and what they want their post-divorce lives to look like. While you can't always completely cater to your children, it's important to understand what it is that they want. Your kids may have fears or phobias that you and your former spouse can help them work through together. For example, maybe your kids are concerned about switching schools. Is there a way they can remain at their current school? Could you arrange to have meet-ups with their current friend groups even if you move? Talk with your kids so you know what they're thinking.

Make sure that you and your former spouse find a way to connect with your kids as a family. This means attending your children's sporting events, going to their dance recitals, and attending parent-teacher meetings. You can create a shared family calendar that enables you to let the other parent know when you have an important meeting or event and might not be able to attend a child's performance. You can also clearly list things like medical appointments and meetings.

No matter what led to your divorce, remember that your kids are not at the center of your disagreements with your former spouse. Try to work together to move forward in a way that is healthy and beneficial to your kids. If you and your partner simply cannot communicate effectively, talk with your divorce attorney. Your lawyer can help guide you during this time and let you know what your next steps should be.