What is co-parenting?
If it has been decided or agreed by the parents that they will both continue to have parental responsibility for a child, to spend time with that child will require a degree of co-parenting. Ideally, co-parenting looks like:
– where the parents have similar parenting styles and implement similar rules or practices across the two households; or
– where the parents have different rules in the two households and a process is needed to be put into place to assist the child to transition between the two households and the two different sets of rules.
How can parents deal with the frequent problems which can arise with day to day matters? When parents struggle to communicate with each other after separation, how can they know what time netball training is, whether there is a history assignment to finish or if the kids have a cold or minor illness and were given medication?
Useful Tools for Navigating Co-Parenting
It has been common for the Family Court to order that the parents make use of a Communication Book, which travels with the child between the two households. Whilst this is a great concept and can be extremely useful, it is not perfect. Some of the risks with the Communication Book are:
- if the child is old enough to read and reads the Communication Book and sees parents communicating in the book with each other, either poorly or aggressively;
- there is the risk of accidental or intentional damage or loss of the Communication Book; and
- the risk of the parents not remembering to note everything in the Communication Book or accidentally or deliberately not sending the book back to the other parent in the child’s belongings.
There are now electronic versions of the Communication Book to help parents communicate and document parents’ communication. Some of these apps are ‘My Family Wizard’, ‘2 Houses’, ‘SharedCare’ and ‘Custody Connection’. These provide a means for parents to communicate on all matters affecting the care and wellbeing of their children. These apps enable the communication to be open and clearly visible in a manner that cannot be damaged or hidden by either party. It also provides an opportunity for an Independent Children’s Lawyer (appointed by the court) to see those communications first hand without having to rely on the parents to provide all correspondence.
If you are having difficulty with co-parenting, we can assist, please contact our Menai office and talk to one of our lawyers about legal advice and how to proceed or for more information.