Despite the many challenges, it is possible to develop a co-parenting arrangement that works for your situation. If at all possible, upon separating parents should try to sit down and come up with a plan for how they will parent their children. Children benefit when everyone is on the same page as much as possible about how things will work in the future. If it's difficult for you to sit down and come up with this plan together, or you can't agree on things in the plan, you might like to seek professional help.

Two main factors have been found to have an important effect on family relationships and children’s development, no matter what kind of family children are raised in: communicating with warmth and care; and establishing clear and appropriate limits for children’s behaviour. 

To promote these goals, co-parents might like to consider:

  • when, where and for how long children will spend time with each parent
  • guidelines for important decision making
  • rules and discipline between homes
  • how holidays and special events will be handled
  • back-up plans for when things don’t go as expected.

Maintaining open lines of communication is also really important. Keeping each other up-to-date with what’s happening in both households and dealing with issues as they come up can help separated or divorced parents to effectively co-parent their children.

You may also like to read about family relationships and the Raising Children Network resource on Co-parenting: getting the balance right.