This section helps separated families co-parent better. It provides information on how you can make arrangements for your children.
We have collected resources that we know separated parents find helpful. There is information, activities to improve communication skills, and help with planning for you and your children.
No matter what stage you are in your divorce proceedings or separation this information is designed to help you understand the needs of your children during separation and make the best arrangements for them.
It provides information on:
- Planning Together for Children;
- Parenting Plan;
- Updating and agreeing arrangements;
- Listening to your children.
The tools and resources on this page have been developed by experts in the Family Justice System – Cafcass, the Ministry of Justice, working with lots of other organisations, mediation services, contact centres and information providers.
What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting is a term often used by professionals but rarely by parents themselves. ‘Co-parent’ is a shortened version of ‘co-operative parent’, and co-operation is essential to making things work well for children.
However, if you are in the middle of a divorce or leaving a long-term relationship, you might feel like you don’t have the energy for co-operation. So how are you expected to put your hurt and anger to one side, and co-operate with each other?
Learning to be an effective co-parent is an ongoing process that will last as long as your children need you.
Like any new skill, it takes time and practice to feel you are doing it well (or well enough) and there will be many times when you may feel you are getting it wrong and finding it really hard going.
Think about when you first became a parent. The responsibility may have felt overwhelming and you probably worried about getting it wrong but, over time, most of us figure out a way to grow in confidence.
The same can be said of parenting after a relationship has broken down – you won’t always get it right but there are some basics to think about that will help along the way.
- Respect each other’s parenting style. Your co-parent might have different approaches to mealtimes, bedtimes and entertainment but try not to interfere.
- Children and young people are okay with different rules in different houses, so unless the child is at risk of harm, you should try to accept the differences.
- When you speak about your child’s other parent, use positive or neutral comments. Try to encourage family and friends do the same.
- However tempting it is, don’t question your children about the other parent or encourage them to act as spies. If you have questions about what goes on at the other parent’s home, ask your ex directly.
- Don’t encourage children to complain about the other parent. If there is a problem, encourage them to talk to you about it and ask if they would like to speak to their other parent about it.
- Try and keep your feelings about your ex separate from your parenting decisions. Treat your child’s other parent or carer as you would like to be treated yourself.
- Texting and emailing can be useful but sometimes things can be misinterpreted. Think about the best way to communicate with your co-parent or carer.
- Share information about your child with each other. There should not be any competition around who has the most information and it means that your child is getting the best possible care from their parents or carers.
- Make sure your child has what they need at each home. Your child shouldn’t have to carry the burden of ferrying stuff backwards and forwards between homes.
- Keep to financial arrangements and notify the other parent about any issues that will affect them.
- Keep each other updated on your contact information. You should each know the other’s address, telephone, work number, etc.
You may also like to visit the Parenting Information Programme on the National Family Mediation website.
Children and separation: first steps for parents
Knowing how to deal with the practical issues of separation – sorting out new living arrangements, arranging child support – can help your and your children’s life run more smoothly at a difficult time.
Your first job is to build a new kind of relationship – a parenting partnership. Try to remember that your children’s experience of your co-parent or carer is different from yours. Focus on your strengths as partners and parents and let your children’s needs guide you.
Cafcass Positive co-Parenting Programme
Our Positive co-Parenting Programme is a 12-week programme for families which provides structured sessions to parents in family proceedings. It aims to promote positive change, […]
Communicating with your ex
Avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Agree not to let your own relationship issues come into the discussion. Create some rules together about how to […]
Supporting your children through divorce and separation
Listening to your child’s voice after separation There is a lot happening after separating from your partner. It can often be a time of high […]
Communication with your co-parent
Things may not always go smoothly when co-parenting. It helps to be clear about what your most important goals are for the future. Here are […]
During mediation, an independent trained mediator helps you and your co-parent to work out an agreement about: New or revised arrangements for children; Child Maintenance […]
A parenting plan is a written agreement worked out between co-parents that covers the practical issues of parenting. Co-parents are those who share the duties […]
Planning Together for Children
Planning Together for Children is a course which promotes cooperative parenting. It supports parents to think about the needs of their children first when they […]