Divorce is difficult enough for adults in Maryland and elsewhere to process and go through, but it can be an even more upsetting experience for the children involved. Since it is generally held that having a relationship with both parents is in children’s best interests, many divorcing parents decide to co-parent. However, making it a positive experience does not come without challenges.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sometimes referred to as shared parenting, co-parenting involves two people collaborating and sharing in the responsibilities and goals of raising a child together. When accomplished successfully, shared parenting may foster children’s cognitive development, improve their social skills and make them less likely to show problem behaviors. Co-parenting is also important for parents as it is liked to better romantic relationships and increased father involvement.

According to the Montgomery County Parent Education and Custody Effectiveness handbook, there are several things parents can do to ease the transition after a divorce for their children and make their parenting plans work. Parents should set aside their feelings and put their children’s best interests first. To this end, it is important that they refrain from bad-mouthing each other in front of their kids, never use their children as weapons against the other parent and avoid using their children as go-betweens. Messages and issues that need discussing should be handled by parents, keeping the kids out of adult discussions and problems.

In order to effectively share parenting responsibilities, communication is essential. People should regularly communicate with their co-parents, sharing information about important events, medical issues and other things that might affect their children. If they cannot speak face-to-face without conflict, people may consider options such as talking on the phone, or communicating by e-mail or using a parenting app.