Navigating the end of a relationship is difficult, even in the best of circumstances. There are always complex emotions involved and the practical realities of separating can be the source of numerous headaches. Nonetheless, the process of separating need not become a scene out of ‘War of the Roses’. If both parties are reasonably sensible and have a healthy dose of self-awareness, achieving a functional post-separation relationship is quite doable. To help you understand the law, the realities of co-parenting and the positive ways you can navigate the process, Cargill Family Law have created a five-part co-parenting blog series with professional insight on what you can expect.

Functional parenting after separation

For separating couples who have children, the most critically important task is to focus on the needs of their children. If at all possible, both parents should focus on developing a positive co-operative and child-focused relationship with one another.

​What separated parents need to keep in focus is that it is not the process of separation that damages the psyches of children. It is being exposed to high levels of ongoing conflict between separated parents that causes the greatest amount of anxiety and psychological issues for children.

​Studies show that children exposed to extended periods of inter-parental conflict are far more likely to perform poorly at school, develop significant psychological issues and be less likely to develop healthy relationships in the future. In the absence of family violence and risk issues, these are all very good reasons to put aside any grievances that you might have with your ex and focus on adopting a positive and forward-looking approach to co-parenting.

In this five-part co-parenting series, we will touch on the following areas:

  • Negotiating a parenting plan and how to stay out of court
  • Parenting plans and parenting orders – the pros and the cons
  • Parenting proceedings – navigating the court process
  • Long-term decision-making concerning children

​Prior to launching into the detail however, we recommend that you do the following:

Educate yourself
There are some great books available to assist parents in supporting their children through the separation process. As a starting point, we suggest reading Children & parenting after separation.

Consider enrolling in a post-separation parenting course
Or enrolling in a more intensive parenting course such as ‘Circle of Security Parenting’ which is provided by
many local providers of community services for minimal cost.

Talk to your children
Explain to them what is going on (avoiding emotionally charged language which might cause alarm), allow your children to voice their thoughts, feelings and wishes (if they want to) and reassure them as best you can.

Get the support that your children need
If your children are demonstrating unusually high levels of anxiety, speak to your family General Practitioner about getting any additional support.

Get the support that you need
If you are finding yourself becoming regularly triggered by things that your ex is saying and doing – reach out for support from a trusted counsellor or psychologist to assist you to process your emotions in the most healthy way possible.

Shield your children from conflict
Obtain legal advice from a trusted family lawyer and engage in family dispute resolution processes to resolve parental conflict as soon as possible.

For more information about the services offered by Cargill Family Law in this area, see our Parenting Arrangements service.