If you and your ex-spouse or ex-partner are co-parenting your children after a separation or divorce, it can be complicated. Missouri prefers joint custody and parenting plans for legal and physical custody whenever possible, but even parents who get along can find co-parenting challenging. It’s important to learn how to handle the situation, take care of your children and their interests, and focus on allowing both you and your co-parent to develop meaningful relationships with your children.

Understanding Co-Parenting

Co-parenting allows children of a separation or divorce to benefit from having two parents. This can help ease their transition after separation and can make the process of divorce easier for both parents. Parents who are less stressed are also more likely to be effective parents.

Co-parenting allows a stable foundation for children. For co-parenting to be effective, parents must learn to work together and have joint responsibility for their children’s care.

Tips for Effective Co-Parenting

No co-parenting situation is the same, and each unique family requires different co-parenting techniques. However, there are some tips that can help any parents who are trying to co-parent. These include:

  • Set and Respect Boundaries Between Co-Parents

    After your separation or divorce is finalized, you and your co-parent need to determine boundaries. This includes keeping professional or business-like communications and focusing on your children rather than each other’s personal lives. Determine when each parent should and should not have a say in the other’s decisions, based on the marital agreement. You and your co-parent must learn to respect each other’s time with the children to create a stable living environment for them.

  • Ensure Your Children’s Interests Are the Priority

    Every decision you make during co-parenting should prioritize your children’s interests. You want them to feel comfortable, loved, cared for, and supported. Provide them with consistent routines, remain on good communicating terms with your co-parent, and never use your children as a go-between for yourself and your co-parent. Be honest with your children about the co-parenting situation, to the extent that is age appropriate.

  • Maintain Effective Communication

    Create routine check-ins with your co-parent to discuss decisions and mitigate conflict regarding your children. By focusing the conversation on your children and their interests, conversations may be more amicable. Remain respectful, and listen to each other. When making decisions about your children, try not to make demands, but work constructively with your co-parent, especially if you disagree.

    Be careful what you say in front of your children, as a conflict between parents can cause kids a lot of stress. Determine if alternate means of communication are better in high-conflict situations. Talking over the phone, rather than in person, or using texts and emails may be useful.

  • Get Support If You Need It

    As a parent dealing with separation or divorce, you are also dealing with a lot of complicated and frustrating emotions. It’s essential to make sure that these negative emotions do not interfere with your parenting or your communication with your co-parent. Find people who you can talk to about your emotions, such as friends and family. It’s often helpful for parents to seek professional support after a separation.

  • Be Consistent and Follow the Parenting Plan

    The parenting plan is an essential guideline for effective co-parenting. It will cover information such as how parents make important decisions, what to do in emergencies, how to communicate, visitation schedules, and conflict resolution plans. A parenting plan is in the interests of your children. When both parents follow the parenting plan terms, children have more consistency and stability in their lives. Try to create similar routines and expectations that children will follow in both homes. This can not only help parents remain on equal footing, but it provides less stress and change for your children.

  • Help Your Children Maintain Connections

    The court prefers parenting plans that keep children in the school and community that they have connections in. Help your kids stay connected with their friends, family, and community. This helps them find support after a separation or divorce. Family includes your co-parent’s extended family. Try to stay on good terms with them and help your children maintain those familial connections.


Q: What Makes for Successful Co-Parenting After a Divorce?

A: Successful co-parenting puts the children’s needs as the priority and ensures communication between parents. Parents work together to mitigate conflict, work in their child’s interests, and support their child as separate parents. Co-parenting is not always easy after separation, but it’s essential that parents remain respectful and keep communication open with each other to care for their child.

Q: What Is the 50-50 Custody Schedule in Missouri?

A: There is no set 50-50 custody schedule, as a parenting schedule depends on the needs of a family. A parenting schedule may switch between parents every week, on weekends, or through another schedule. For parents with joint custody, a 50-50 plan is encouraged. If parents are settling custody through mediation, they can set their own schedule, provided that the court approves. They can also stray from the plan as needed if both parents agree. However, if the parenting schedule is a court order, parents cannot change it without another court order.

Q: What Are the 3 Types of Co-Parenting?

A: Co-parenting can be beneficial or harmful to children, depending on the type of co-parenting.

  1. Parallel Parenting: Parents each have equal time with their children, but they do not communicate or have a say in the other parent’s time with their children. This form of co-parenting is useful when children should spend time with both parents, but the parents are unable to get along.
  2. Conflicted Co-Parenting: This is when parents try to have cooperative co-parenting but are unable to prevent arguments and conflict. This type of co-parenting is incredibly detrimental to children.
  3. Cooperative Co-Parenting: Parents maintain communication and cooperation during parenting.

Q: What Is the Ideal Split for Co-Parenting?

A: If it’s possible for your family’s situation, a 50-50 custody schedule can be very beneficial for children in a co-parenting arrangement. This works most effectively when parents live a close distance from each other and can communicate respectfully and mostly without conflict. Be sure that the child or children can handle the frequent switches between homes.

Protecting Your Parenting Plan

If you need to enforce a parenting schedule, or have other issues with child custody, a child custody attorney can help. Contact Stange Law Firm today.