Co-parenting after divorce can be challenging, but setting clear rules and boundaries can help create a more positive and productive co-parenting relationship. Here are seven rules for co-parenting after divorce.

Rule number 1: Put the children first when co-parenting after divorce

It is important to keep in mind that regardless of the circumstances, divorce can be very difficult for children. Rule number one for co-parenting after divorce is to prioritize the children’s well-being above everything else. Parents should work together to create a stable and consistent environment for the children, and make sure they feel loved and supported by both parents.

Rule number 2: Never badmouth the other parent to your child when co-parenting after divorce

It can be really difficult to say kind or even neutral things about one’s ex, especially because many divorces are not amicable. However, one must remember that it is extremely difficult for a child to hear negative things about their parents, especially from their other parent.

Regardless of the fact that you no longer love your ex, emotionally healthy children usually love both their mother and their father. Even if they have reason not to love their other parent, don’t badmouth your ex to your child. It is hard to hear someone you love so much speaking badly about someone else you love so much. Whether you like it or not, your child is 50% you, and 50% their other parent. Consider how your child could internalize any negative comments made about their other parent. It is important to keep this in mind: Whatever negative feelings you may have about your child’s other parent – don’t vent to your child about it, it just isn’t fair to your child.

You don’t want your children to feel like they can’t share certain things with you. For example, let’s say your child has a really nice visit with her other parent, maybe your ex took her to the park and then bought her ice cream. After the visit you pick her up and ask her how it went. If you’ve previously badmouthed your ex to her, will she feel comfortable telling you what a wonderful time she had with your ex? She may not feel comfortable sharing the happy memory with you because she may worry that you’ll then say something derogatory. Children who are emotionally healthy feel comfortable having an open and honest dialogue with their parents. Don’t give them reason to be close-mouthed or keep secrets, it doesn’t bode well for emotional well-being or secure attachment.

Rule number 3: Communicate respectfully when co-parenting after divorce

Effective communication is key to successful co-parenting. This can certainly be difficult when there are hurt feelings between exes, but parents need to remember to behave as adults.

Although it is difficult, put hard feelings aside for the sake of the children and respectfully communicate with one another. This is a co-parenting after divorce rule-of-thumb. Parents must avoid using their children as messengers or putting them in the middle of conflicts. Emotionally healthy children have parents who can communicate with each other in a civil manner.

Rule number 4: Be flexible when co-parenting after divorce

Co-parenting requires flexibility and compromise from both parents. They should be willing to adjust their schedules and routines as necessary to accommodate each other’s needs and the needs of the children. That means that if it’s Dad’s turn to get a visit with Suzie on Saturday’s, he should be flexible and visit with Suzie on Sunday instead if she happens to have a soccer game that conflicts with one of his Saturday visits. If Dad has to go out of town for work and is requesting a different weekend to meet with Tommy than was originally planned, Mom needs to be flexible about this. Compromise and flexibility are so important when co-parenting after divorce.

Rule number 5: respect each other’s parenting styles

Even if parents have different parenting styles, they should respect each other’s choices and work together to create consistency between households. For example, maybe Mom doesn’t like it when Bobby watches television before doing his homework. Dad doesn’t have to enforce that rule in his house if he doesn’t want to, but it would create consistency for Bobby if Dad did enforce that rule in his home.

Dad isn’t winning any brownie points with Bobby if he says “Your Mom is too strict about getting homework done, sure you can watch the TV.” Criticizing or undermining the other parent’s parenting can create unnecessary conflict and stress for the children.

Rule number 6: Creating a parenting plan is important when co-parenting after divorce

A detailed parenting plan can help establish clear rules and expectations for co-parenting. It should outline custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and other important details, such as how major decisions will be made and how disputes will be resolved.

Rule number 7: Seek outside help when needed when co-parenting after divorce

Co-parenting can be difficult, and it’s okay to seek outside help when needed. Parents can consider working with a therapist or mediator to help resolve conflicts and improve communication.


Overall, successful co-parenting requires a willingness to put aside personal differences and work together for the sake of the children. By setting clear rules and boundaries, communicating effectively, and prioritizing the children’s well-being, parents can create a positive and healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce. Schedule a free intro call with me to learn about how I can help you specifically with any co-parenting challenges.


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