Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law provides collaborative divorce solutions to clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

Divorce: What is Co-Parenting and Why Do I Have to Do It?

When parents get a divorce, they will still be connected through their children. California law requires that, with few exceptions, children have a relationship with both parents. It is expected that environment established by both parents and the relationship with the children will be safe and healthy.  Since you and your ex will be working together to raise your children, albeit separately, here are some things to know about co-parenting.

Options for Co-Parenting

There are options for how parents can work out the co-parenting arrangement:

  • Nesting. This is when the children stay in the same home and the parents take turns staying with them. This generally means that each parent has their own home somewhere else and travel back and forth.
  • Traditional. This is when the parents each have a home and it is the children who travel back and forth between the parents.

The most important thing is for the children to feel loved and secure no matter which parent is spending time with them.

Effective Co-Parenting

Effective co-parenting happens when the parents work together to facilitate calm and meaningful relations between the children and both parents.  Co-parenting is facilitated by the parents having the same goals for their children and wanting them to thrive.

The parents should try to have the same or similar rules for bedtimes, homework, after-school programs, and for childcare.  Parents should work together regarding who is driving the children to and from extracurricular activities and keep each other apprised of any special events for the children like band concerts, school plays, and award ceremonies.

They should work to accommodate sudden changes in schedules and the children’s desires as they get older.  If a child feels like they want to call the parent who they are not with to share some good news with them, or just to talk, that should be allowed.

If a child has something special happen and wants to go for ice cream with the parent who is not “on duty,” that should be allowed as is reasonable.  The more parents can work together for the best interest of the children, the more likely the children are to thrive.

Mediation or Collaborative Divorce Assist with Co-Parenting

When parents work together to craft their own parenting plan, the more likely it is that they will abide by it.  In the Collaborative Divorce model, there is a coaches and child specialist professional who help you with this and the child specialist even meets with the children, if they are old enough, to get their input on what they would like to see included in the co-parenting plan.

In mediation parents can also get help putting together a timeshare plan that works for them and their children, whereas in a traditional divorce, the judge will make those decisions, and that decision may not work for the parents or children.

For assistance with your divorce and developing a good co-parenting plan, contact us at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.