Your relationship might have ended, with your former partner, but you’re both still parents to your child. It’s usually in your child’s best interests if your co-parenting arrangements keep you both involved in your child’s life.

Creating new parenting arrangements when a relationship breaks down, wasn’t easy, especially if there are strong feelings and unresolved issues. You and your former partner need to make clear decisions about how you’ll parent your child now and in future, whatever your situation.

As you work out your co-parenting arrangements, it’ll be easier if you can both keep open minds and try to step into your child’s shoes. You might have to make some compromises along the way, in meeting your child’s needs and your own needs.

Developing a co-parenting plan

To set out the details of your new relationship, a useful way is a co-parenting plan. To create one, your former partner and you need to discuss your responsibilities and rights with regard to your child and set up a way to work out disputes.

You might be able to sort this out together. If you can’t, you can get help from a mediator, family dispute resolution practitioner or relationship counselor. A shared parenting plan should address:

  • decision-making guidelines
  • a contact or visitation schedule
  • education
  • children’s medical needs or concerns
  • special events and holidays
  • finances.

When your co-parenting plan is in place and working, you need to agree on what happens if one of you needs to change the plan or has a change in circumstances in the future. That might mean talking to your former partner about how they can help out. You might be able to discuss this in person, via email or on the phone.

To co-parenting successfully with your former partner:

Be flexible

To be a little bit flexible benefits for everyone. For example, it might help to be ready with alternative plans, if your former partner is sometimes late for pick-ups. Try to keep in mind that getting upset about a change your former partner makes might make it tricky the next time you need to change things.

Keep your former partner up to date

Your child will benefit when his other parent knows what’s going on for him. You and your former partner could keep each other up to date by using a shared online calendar that lists your child’s weekly schedule, plus any special events.

Plan ahead for tasks, activities, and events

You might want your former partner take responsibility for or to be involved in tasks like school outings or child and family health visits. If you’re on good terms you could plan to go to activities like school concerts or parent-teacher interviews together. You’ll need to plan who is going to go to what event, if you’re not able to go together or how you’ll handle it if you’re both there.

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