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Your guide to co-parenting

Even though Florida courts typically support shared custody -- otherwise known as "shared parental responsibility" -- managing these types of situations can produce an enormous amount of stress, not just on you, but your children as well.

For example, if you are parenting in a successful and healthy manner, but your future ex-husband is not, then your children could suffer the negative effects. Furthermore, your children could be at risk for developmental problems along the way. The same holds true if there are vast differences in disciplinary techniques, for instance, if you are more lenient and your ex is strict.

In order to co-parent successfully, the two of you must operate on the same page. You each have to practice patience, communication and flexibility. This can be extremely difficult for parents that are separated or divorced. One of the key ways to keep your co-parenting on track is to keep your children as the focus. For some tips to help make co-parenting successful, read below.

Keep the dialogue open

Communication is a very important factor if you intend to co-parent effectively. Whether you are using email, text messaging, or face-to-face conversations, you will have to communicate with your ex for scheduling your children's weekends, holidays and special events. There are various online programs you can use to share information with your ex if direct contact is too difficult.

Keep house rules consistent

You and your ex should have mirroring routines and rules for each household. For example, the kids should have the same bedtimes in each household, the same rules for completing homework prior to recreational activities, and even what kinds of chores you expect them to do. Having similar or the same routines in each household will provide your children with a sense of security and predictability that is comforting.

Keep each other updated

As changes occur, it is important to keep your ex updated. For example, if your child is taking up a new hobby or sport, you will have to keep your ex in the loop. Also, if there are changes in your own life, such as a new job, relationship or other event, it is your responsibility to inform your ex-spouse. You should never use your children to pass messages or deliver news about any changes in your life.

If you are considering divorce and you have children, you may be worried about your role as a single parent and handling the demands of shared parental responsibilities. Fortunately, there are various tools available to help you co-parent effectively so that you and your children can thrive.