Following a divorce, it is becoming more popular to have joint responsibility for children. To have 50 / 50 responsibility for your children has its advantages as well as disadvantages. This involves having your children live with you 50% of the time. If you have a flexible job that can work around childcare, it is an ideal situation. However, a lot of people do not have such a luxury. It is widely accepted that a child of divorcing parents will be better able to accept the change if the parents are able to get along.
Co-parenting requires a lot of consideration from both parents for it to succeed. It is beneficial to the children to have equal contact with both parents. The key to co-parenting is to focus on the child/ren rather than the other party. Agreeing to a parenting agreement is the best way to ensure co-parenting works for both of you.
It’s important that issues between the ex-partners are not dealt with in front of, or through, the child. Until feelings and tempers have settled down, showing restraint and speaking about matters involving the child, can make a big difference in the early days of co-parenting. Time is a big healer, so things will become easier, the more you co-parent equally.
Useful Tips on Co-parenting
Of the many things you need to consider when children live in 2 homes, here are some suggestions to make life for both parties easier:
- Establish the same ground rules for the children in each home.
- Set the same bed-time and bed-time routine in both homes.
- If pocket-money is provided to the children, make it the same in both homes.
- Tell the schools of the children of your divorce and co-parenting arrangement, so they can keep phone numbers and addresses of both parents.
- Notify your doctors surgery of your arrangement, so both parents can take the child to receive treatment.
- Children need a regular routine, so try to ensure the same routine is maintained in both homes.
- Ensure the social life of the children is maintained whichever parent has responsibility.
- Dont allow for one parent to over spoil the children to gain favour.
- Have a list of childcarers that is agreed by both parents, that can be used should both parents be unable to care for the child/ren.
When in a co-parenting arangement, parents are entitled to make decisions about their child’s education. They are entitled to receive information from the school even if the school’s main contact is with the other parent.
Anyone with parental responsibility has the right to:
- Receive information – such as pupil reports / letters
- Participate in statutory activities – such as voting in elections for parent governors
- Be asked to give consent – such as to the child taking part in school trips. However, the school does not need the consent of both parents. If a residence or child arrangement order is in place, the school will abide by the decision of the resident parent.
- Be informed about meetings involving the child e.g. regarding behaviour.
Government guidance says that a school can refuse a place to a child if there is a dispute between parents and will wait until the dispute has been settled by the court.