Divorce legally ends a marriage between two parties, but their relationship isn’t over when they have children. Studies show kids can still thrive after a divorce when both parents remain actively and positively involved.

But what happens when parents don’t get along? The goal should be to find the most peaceful path for remaining in your kids’ lives by minimizing conflict with your former spouse. A good start may be to find out where you and your ex fit on the post-divorce parenting spectrum.

Co-parenting vs. parallel parenting

Depending upon the current level of communication with and feelings for the other parent, there are two basic styles of post-divorce parenting partnerships:

  • Co-parenting: These former spouses typically remain civil with each other and agree to put their differences aside to create a peaceful and loving atmosphere for their kids. They make all decisions regarding their children in unison and are committed to creative problem-solving and flexibility. They may even attend family or school events together.
  • Parallel parenting: Some parents have relationships that are so damaged, the best way to create a peaceful environment for their kids is to limit their interactions with each other. They depend more upon the parenting plan to dictate their relationship as they strive to maintain two parallel households and avoid conflict.

Most parents fall somewhere in between these two extremes. In some cases, co-parenting may better suit one parent while the other may benefit from a parallel relationship. It’s up to both parties to find the best fit.

Where do you fall on the parenting spectrum?

If you have a complicated or tense parenting relationship with your ex, here are some questions to ask yourself for finding the best parenting style:

  • What will it take to eliminate or reduce conflict with my ex so our kids can live in two peaceful homes?
  • How important is it that I work together with my ex in parenting our kids?
  • How much communication can I stand to have with my former spouse?
  • How much contact do I want with my ex?

Create a comprehensive parenting plan

Regardless of how well you and your former spouse get along after your marriage ends, a crucial step for avoiding future conflict is crafting a complete parenting plan, which outlines visitation schedules, including birthdays, holidays, vacations and school breaks. It also lays out how important decisions will be made for medical, educational, religious and other issues.

Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you draft a plan that minimizes the potential for conflict for you and your ex, but more importantly, creates a sense of security for your kids. Despite the breakup of your marriage, your kids can find peace of mind, so they recover faster, bolstering their well-being and knowing that they remain the priority for both parents.

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