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As any parent knows, parenting is never easy. Even when life deals you the best cards, successfully raising a child will test you. Thus, the challenges that exist in parenting become even more challenging when divorce and separation are thrown into the mix. The change in dynamic can be a difficult adjustment. Divorce can also bring about a range of different feelings and emotions. A contentious divorce can leave parents feeling betrayed, lost, or furious. These feelings can last long after the divorce is finalized and bleed into the co-parenting relationship.
It’s not easy to put issues aside or work as a cohesive parenting unit after a divorce. However, when parents dedicate themselves to the success of their children and build a parenting relationship on accountability, teamwork, respectful communication, and flexibility, everyone wins. Exceptional co-parenting takes extensive planning to pull off, which is why the attorneys at Burnham Law have compiled a list of the most helpful tools, articles, and resources to help you along your co-parenting journey. Co-parenting is far from easy, but when you do it right, it’s worth it.
Building a good co-parenting foundation means starting with the basics. The following articles contain basic tips and advice for parents just starting the process of a divorce or just starting out as co-parents.
How to Help Your Child Through A Divorce: Regardless of how well you prep for separation, divorce is never easy on children. Your child will likely experience a range of different emotions through the divorce process. This article from KidsHealth provides parents with knowledge on how to handle their child’s reaction to divorce and help them cope each step of the way.
11 Ways to Make Shared Custody Not Suck: Co-parenting can suck, but it doesn’t have to. This article from Today’s Parent provides 11 actionable tips new co-parents can use to ensure a healthy post-split relationship that works well for both parents and children.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Co-Parenting Well: This post on Psychology Today by Deborah Serani Psy.D. covers basic do’s and don’ts new co-parents will want to follow to maintain a civil relationship. The article also discusses two problem solving techniques parents can use to address issues.
Some argue that technology is ruining our lives, but there’s also no denying that technology makes co-parenting significantly easier. There are a range of different mobile and online apps to make just about any aspect of parenting more manageable. Apps can help separated parents with scheduling, communication, meal planning, budgeting, and more.
AppClose: AppClose is considered by many to be one of the best free co-parenting apps of all time. It includes many of the bells and whistles you’d find with paid apps at absolutely no cost. Users can send and receive messages, track expenses, request or send payments, and coordinate shared calendars.
Google Calendar: Already a staple in many homes, a shared Google Calendar can help keep both parents organized and on the same page. Co-parents can use the calendar to coordinate special activities, events, and weekly visits.
Cozi: Cozi is a family organizer designed for any family, but it works particularly well for families that are separated. Like Google Calendar, it has a shared calendar feature, but it also allows users the ability to create meal plans, shared shopping lists, to-do lists, a family journal and more.
Our Family Wizard: Our Family Wizard has a pretty sizeable user base. The app is specifically designed for co-parents and is frequently ordered to be used by judges across the country in high-conflict child custody disputes. Our Family Wizard documents all family communication, expenses, and payments. It can also track the location of every family member and maintain a color-coded shared calendar. The app rings in at $99 per parent per year.
Talking Parents: Talking Parents does one thing and it does it well. The app is designed to provide record keeping for messages between parents. Within the app you can download all past communications, should you need to provide proof of correspondence to the court. Messaging on the app is free, but downloading communications will cost you. You can either pay $4.99 per month or $3.99 per download.
Coparently: Coparently offers many of the same features as Our Family Wizard at the same exact price. Coparently is $99 per parent per year. If you’re deciding between the two tools, it ultimately comes down to your preferences on the design of the user interface.
Books are great during and after a divorce for a number of reasons. Not only do they contain troves of valuable information and knowledge, but they also provide a source of relaxation and escape during times that could otherwise be hectic and stressful. The sheer number of co-parenting and divorce books available to read can be overwhelming when trying to decide the best book for you or your child. To make things easier, we’ve provided a condensed list of some of our favorite books below.
Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorced Parents Can Raise Happy and Secure Kids: Parenting Apart by Christina McGhee is widely regarded as one of the best co-parenting books for brand new co-parents. The book provides actionable solutions to some of the big early issues faced by divorcing parents.
Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex: In a perfect world, separated parents could behave in an amicable manner towards each other. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and it’s something you may need to prepare for if your divorce is contentious. Joint Custody with a Jerk offers readers real solutions to tough issues that arise when your former spouse is difficult, selfish, or irrational.
Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Written by internationally renowned therapist, Isolina Ricci, Mom’s House, Dad’s House is considered by many to be “the bible” for divorcing parents. The book helps parents prepare for separation, divorce, remarriage, and living with blended families. It includes helpful guidelines, checklists, tools, and even self-tests.
The Co-Parenting Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted and Resilient Kids from Little Ones to Young Adults through Divorce or Separation: The Co-Parenting Handbook is a good book to start with as you venture into co-parenting. Co-parenting family structures and strategies differ depending on a child’s age. The handbook addresses that and offers advice and tips for parenting children of any age.
Speaking of Divorce: How to Talk with Your Kids and Help Them Cope: Written by Roberta Beyer and Kent Winchester, Speaking of Divorce is an excellent book that gets parents to think about how to approach divorce with children and how it will affect them. Parents will learn how to speak gently and truthfully while guiding their children through the breakup and beyond.
Was It the Chocolate Pudding?: A Story For Little Kids About Divorce: In trying to understand divorce, it’s easy for children to blame themselves as the cause for separation. This book gently offers young children reassurance that they aren’t to blame for their parents’ divorce. It touches on some of the most pressing questions children have, including: Do my parents still love me? And: Who will take care of me?
Two Homes: Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton paints separation in a positive light while simply laying out all of the facts in a way that remains child-centered. For this reason, it is an excellent read for children. The reassuring content focuses more on what is gained from a divorce, rather than what is lost.
Divorce is the Worst: Divorce is the Worst is a very clever book by Anastasia Higginbotham. Parents know that divorce is ultimately for the best, but it can be hard for children to see it as anything other than the worst. The book helps children to reflect on their emotions to better understand them. The story is both funny and honest, while captivating kids with colorful mixed-media collages.
Dinosaurs Divorce: Dinosaurs divorce is widely regarded as one of the best divorce books for young children. It is written by Marc (the author behind the Arthur book series) and Laurene Brown. The book allows children to digest the concepts of divorce through the lens of a dinosaur family. It covers topics such as why parents divorce, what living in two homes is like, and what it’s like to have stepbrothers and stepsisters.
What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? A survival Guide for Kids: This book is designed to be a companion book to Speaking of Divorce, which is on our list of recommended divorce books for adults. Unlike many of the books on the list, this book is geared towards older grade school and middle school-aged children (ages 7-12). It is written in a Q&A format and explains the important aspects of divorce with honesty and simplicity. It’s certainly a book worth considering if your children are older.
Divorce means no longer being able to be with your child at all times and that can be a hard pill to swallow. Where will your child reside throughout a normal week? Who gets custody during specific holidays? It’s important you design a custody and visitation schedule with your former partner that will support your child’s developmental and emotional needs.
Emery’s Alternative Parenting Plans (Child Custody Schedules): Children of varying age groups have different needs and desires and Dr. Emery understands that. He has dedicated his life to researching family relationships and children’s health. In this article, Dr. Emery breaks down optimal child custody schedules by age and hostility level between parents. Each schedule suggested is research-backed and proven to work.
When discussing residential and visitation schedules, the holidays deserve their own separate discussion. Holiday custody and visitation can be a huge point of contention for many families, as every parent wants to spend time with their child during the holidays. The articles below suggest strategies co-parents can utilize to keep holiday time balanced and special.
Holiday Tips for Blended & Divorced Families: Holidays are typically times filled with traditions, but when the family dynamic changes, traditions usually have to change as well. This article from Lemon Lime Adventures discusses ways to keep the holidays special for children despite the change that comes with divorce.
Common Holiday Custody Arrangements: There are many different ways to divide holidays between parents. This article from Custody X Change lists all of the holidays parents will want to consider and different methods co-parents commonly use to divide the holidays fairly.
Decision making is much easier when both parents are under one roof. When separation occurs, communication and decision making become two of the hardest aspects of a co-parenting relationship to figure out. The articles below include a number of different techniques and tips.
Co-Parenting and Discipline Handovers: Who Gets to Call The Shots?: What happens when you’ve laid down the law on Friday afternoon and created a weekend punishment only to realize it’s not your weekend for custody? Will your former spouse enforce your punishment? Who ultimately gets to call the shots on disciplinary action? This article discusses suggestions on discipline for co-parents.
Decision Making Options for Divorced Parents: Licensed marriage and family therapist, Tim Hartnett, lays out several proven decision making models co-parents can utilize. Each model is designed to eliminate or reduce conflict in decision making so that fights can be minimized.
While we’ve made sure to cover many of the important aspects surrounding co-parenting, there will likely be many issues you’ll encounter on your journey that haven’t been covered in this guide. Below are a few final additional tips and considerations that may come in handy.
Relocating with Your Children When There Are Existing Custody Orders: Change is natural and it’s possible you may have to change up your living situation at some point. Whether you need to move for a new job or simply want a change of scenery, there are complications that come with trying to relocate children when a custody order exists. Our lawyers have covered what you need to know in this situation in one of our blog posts.
Dealing with Former In-Laws: During a divorce, the focus is often on the immediate family unit, but it’s important to keep in mind that you and your children aren’t the only ones that will be affected by divorce. Extended family and in-laws will also be impacted by separation. This article from Dummies covers how to build stability and maintain relationships with former in-laws after a divorce.
Sometimes co-parenting issues are best resolved with legal help. If you’d like to modify your custody, child support, or spousal support agreements, or if you’re looking to file for divorce, the attorneys at Burnham Law are here to help. For over a decade, our firm has helped clients across Colorado resolve complex family disputes. Contact Burnham Law today by calling 303-990-5308 or filling out a contact form to receive further advice or support.