What is co-parenting and how does it work?

If you have recently separated from your partner and trying to navigate the arrangements for your child(ren) you might have heard the word “co-parenting” and wondered what it means. Here, Melissa Jones, Senior Associate at McAlister Family Law, looks at the term and how it applies it practice.

What is co-parenting?

Cafcass, the advisory service to the court, describe co-parenting as “‘Co-parent’ is a shortened version of ‘co-operative parent’, and co-operation is essential to making things work well for children”.

A few examples of co-parenting are:

  • Using positive language about the other parent.
  • Avoid using the term ‘my child’ and instead use ‘our child/children’
  • Sharing information about your child with the other parent
  • Avoid involving the children in adult issues that do not concern them or using the children as a ‘go-between’

It is always worth remembering that despite however much we plan for something, things might not work out in the way we want them. Expect a few bumps along the way, as you and the other parent get used to sharing the responsibility for the children.

Can co-parenting really work?

Co-parenting is something that needs time to embed but there is no reason why it cannot work for families.

Take former England Rugby player Ben Foden and his former partner, Una Healey from the Saturdays for example. They have two children aged 11 and 8 and Mr Foden lives in New York with his wife and their own child. Una has recently said the following about co-parenting: “I’m really happy for them that they have summers in New York and that they’re making lovely memories with their dad, stepmother and sister,” and “Our dynamic is probably different to many people’s, but there are lots of people who have families where the parents aren’t together any more. You just manage it as best you can.”

Parenting Apps

The court is especially keen on separated parents using co-parenting apps to assist with their communication and making decisions. In some cases, the use of these apps might help you avoid court all together and they you share calendars and send secure communication.

There are a number of co-parenting apps such as:

  • Our Family Wizard
  • 2 houses
  • Talking Parents

Civil, clear and positive communication between is key for co- [parenting to work. Using an app will often give parents less to worry about and in some cases the apps and they can be inexpensive when considered the cost of going to court.

When might co-parenting not work?

There may however be cases where co-parenting cannot work and in particular where there have been findings made relating to domestic abuse or there is an injunction in place which means it would not be appropriate for parents to be in communication with one another. In these cases, other provisions will need to be considered by the parties in terms of a parent being updated about a child and the court might encourage the use of a third party, for example.

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this blog post, we can provide you with expert legal advice. For more information, please get in touch with our specialist team at hello@mcalisterfamilylaw.co.uk

  • Melissa Jones

    Senior Associate