Co-parenting after separation

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


When two parents separate, there cannot be a clean break in its truest sense. Of course, financial and other ties can be undone and each person can move on with their life to a certain extent but the bond that connects parents to their children and therefore to each other, lives on.

Separated parents continue to owe responsibilities to their children. They will want to be there as they grow up. Above all, children are entitled to spend time with and to enjoy and benefit from the company of, both parents. For those things to happen, parents need to be able to communicate.

We don’t underestimate just how challenging this can be for two people who have gone through the intensely testing, emotional – and sometimes hostile – process of separation. Clients often tell us that they cannot bring themselves to speak to their ex. They don’t think that any sort of useful conversation could be had. They hate the thought of having to ‘share’ their children and consult the other parent about holiday plans or schooling arrangements.

The truth is that, unless there are legitimate reasons for your former partner not to maintain a relationship with your children, you will have to take a few deep breaths and have those difficult conversations and awkward exchanges because the focus really should be on your children. It’s advice that we give clients every day of the week and we’re here to support them in applying it.

There are a few things that could help. Firstly, try to box off your history with your former partner. It’s easier said than done, I know but if you move forward on the basis that you and he/she have the single shared task of raising your children in the safest, happiest and most loving environment possible, you could find that prioritising your children’s best interests enables you to have those constructive conversations - if not straightaway, then perhaps over time.

Linked to that is the idea that each parent should try to respect the other’s role in relation to their children. Be accommodating when it comes to agreeing a deviation from an agreed contact schedule, where the other parent would like to do something that your child would enjoy and benefit from. Be happy for your children when they tell you about the fun they had with their mum/dad and, so importantly, try your very best not to allow your own negative feelings towards your former partner to filter into your children’s consciousness. 

We won’t pretend that any of this is easy to do. In many situations, it is really, really difficult – particularly in the early days but do bear in mind that family lawyers like us and many other family advice organisations, are here to help with the small issues as well as the big.

For advice about separation, divorce and co-parenting, contact one of our specialist solicitors on or 01264 353411. We would be delighted to help you.

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