Co-Parenting Done Right: 4 Things to Consider for an Amicable Co-Parenting Plan


Co-parenting is never easy! But these four considerations can help you create a collaborative plan that centers around your child’s needs.

Divorce is complicated for every couple—but the stakes are much higher when children are involved. Traditional wisdom espoused the idea of staying together for the children. Still, a more nuanced and recent examination of what makes for a healthy home environment reveals that this way of thinking has plenty of flaws. When done right, co-parenting offers a much less contentious solution for ill-fitting spouses, who can work cooperatively for their child’s best interest once they’re free from the strain of their marriage.

Co-parenting with a former spouse is unfamiliar territory for many, and there might be a learning curve. However, when approached carefully and respectfully, separated couples can make a cohesive and thoughtful caretaking plan that prioritizes the children’s interests while retaining both parents' stable presence.

Let’s take a look at what to consider when building an effective and equitable co-parenting plan.

1. Prioritize Children’s Needs

The marriage may have broken down because of conflict in one form or another. Still, co-parents left the union to free themselves from their contentious dynamic. There’s no need to perpetuate disagreements through the parenting plan. A failure to perform conflict resolution with consistency can cause significant distress for a child. When conflicting views arise regarding important matters such as child support, putting the child’s needs ahead of personal feelings can mean making compromises.

The goal is to align decision-making on significant issues while leaving space for flexibility on minor details related to parenting style. To do this, create a plan founded on assertive communication, which embodies a clear, confident, yet careful and respectful expression of ideas. From there, build a shared schedule prioritizing the child’s medical, educational, developmental, and emotional well-being. Granular details like screen time, discipline, and rules can be points of contention—but negotiating a compromise for your approach to these issues helps create a consistent environment for your child.

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2. Open and Consistent Communication

Many couples split because of a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line. However, the health and well-being of your child must override any lingering resentment between adults.

Co-parenting requires careful yet robust methods of communication between parties as parents begin to operate as individuals rather than as a unit. Clear communication can ease the transition for the child—not only because it reduces conflict between parents but also because it might reduce the number of missed pickups or the feeling that one parent or the other is uninvolved. However, this type of interaction is a learned skill. Getting started requires a strategic approach, so co-parents may want to consider setting some of the following precedents:

  • Establishing open and respectful lines of communication through co-parenting apps.
  • Setting aside personal history to put the child first.
  • Incorporating professional advice from therapists and pediatricians in co-parenting discussions.
  • Documenting all communication between co-parents.
  • Maintaining compliance with court orders regarding custody, childcare, and decision-making.
  • Resolving disputes through a professional mediator, if necessary.

Of course, co-parents should set boundaries around when they communicate, what mediums they use, and what topics they cover. In hostile cases, it’s vital to center communication around childcare.

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Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor

Co-parenting, in essence, comes down to communication. It is a form of communication. And for co-parenting to be successful in divorced people's relationships or legitimation cases, you have to have a foundation of communication. — Nauman Siddique, Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor

3. Flexibility and Compromise

There will be issues that co-parents cannot see eye to eye on, even when both parties are making a good-faith effort to prioritize their child. In these instances, it’s important to take a moment to remember that while the marriage is over, both parents are on the same team. Parents should be prepared to make reasonable adjustments to their schedules; sometimes, you’ll have to allow preferred parenting methods to take a backseat in the name of collaboration.

This way, co-parents can generate a good working relationship, even if interpersonal tension remains. For example, if one parent is willing to accommodate their ex’s work trip even if it conflicts with the schedule, the other parent will likely return the favor later on. In the long run, this reduces the strain on all parties and creates a cohesive team dynamic.

4. Co-Parenting and Decision-Making

There are two forms of custody in Georgia: physical and legal. Physical custody pertains to the parental rights to have children at a given time. On the other hand, legal custody grants the parents access to information regarding the child and subsequently confers decision-making powers. In cases with split legal custody, co-parents must come to an amicable resolution on the four major decision-making areas:

  • Educational matters
  • Non-emergency medical decisions
  • Religion
  • Extracurricular activities

It’s common in a marriage to have one spouse be the primary decision-maker—but co-parents with joint legal custody will need to overcome past hierarchies. Both parties will need to weigh in on big decisions.

Ideally, both parties would be able to maintain open and respectful communication and, at times, capitulate to their co-parenting partner’s choices. However, in combative cases, this may not be possible.

When alignment isn’t happening naturally, it’s possible to set up a more structured framework around decision-making. For example, co-parents can start by agreeing to prioritize the child’s interests. Then, setting up joint meetings mediated by a third party may be helpful. Professionals like therapists, pediatricians, or educators can also be asked to weigh in with expert opinions to help co-parents gather objective information. And finally, it’s important to note that certain court orders or custody agreements may outline specific procedures co-parents can adhere to when making childcare decisions.

Co-parenting at its root is one of the most important skills to master and really work at. It does not come naturally. — Nauman Siddique, Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor

Other Legal Considerations

While many emotional and practical factors exist, some important legal matters also come with a separation. Custody, visitation, and child support are just a few of the critical issues on the table during a divorce.

Many co-parents have preconceived notions of what a divorce will look like. They may be worried about losing their parental rights or how they will financially manage factors like child support. The legal documents they receive will offer little comfort and may even seem confusing or threatening.

The truth is that the court isn’t out to get either party. The proceedings aim to be fair and to provide the best possible outcome for your child. However, the process is complex—meaning you need a professional attorney to advocate for your interests, as the stakes are too high to go at it alone.

co-parenting plan
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Handling the Legal Side of Co-Parenting

You might not have always felt that your voice was heard in your marriage—but with the proper representation, you can clarify your position to the court. In fact, you can rest assured that if you choose to take your case before a judge, your attorney will help you tell your story in the most impactful way possible.

When it comes to co-parenting, you need to be an active listener, but you’ll also need to be able to communicate your plans and decisions to your former spouse to ensure proper cooperation. You can trust Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor to represent you throughout this process. Their attorneys have the expertise in Georgia family law—and they’ll go to work for you.

Reach out to request a consultation today.