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10 Healthy Co-Parenting Boundaries You Should Start Implementing Today

list of co parenting boundaries

Co-parenting after divorce or separation can be an immense challenge. Without proper boundaries, it opens the door to emotional conflicts, power struggles, and an unstable environment that can deeply impact your children’s well-being.

Implementing firm, healthy co-parenting boundaries is essential for maintaining your sanity, facilitating a civil co-parenting relationship, and providing a safe, nurturing upbringing for your kids.

In this guide, we’ll outline 10 fundamental co-parenting boundaries that are vital for divorced or separated parents.

1. Follow the Co-Parenting Plan

One of the most important co-parenting boundaries is simply sticking to your official custody order. The order outlines each parent’s allotted time with the children and spells out who is responsible for what.

When parents don’t follow the plan set out in the order, it quickly leads to chaos, confusion, and conflict. Your ex may cancel their weekends, show up during your parenting time unannounced, or make unilateral decisions about activities or schooling.

While occasional flexibility can be reasonable, disregarding the plan frequently undermines the stability kids need and demonstrates disrespect for the agreements made.

Remedy issues by first trying to communicate with the other parent or even attend mediation. However, repeated willful violations may require returning to court for enforcement or modifications.

2. Limit Communication to Logistics and Schedules

Early on, it’s especially wise to limit contact with your ex regarding the logistics of parenting – pickups, drop-offs, and schedules. Avoid over-texting or long email threads rehashing old issues.

Too much unnecessary communication can lead to disagreements and misunderstandings. It can also keep people entangled instead of moving on.

Use tools like OurFamilyWizard or AppClose to focus the conversation on the kids’ care and well-being topics. You’ll also have a record of needed conversations without the risk of entering unhealthy territory.

3. Keep Your Personal Life Private

What happens during each parent’s time should stay private. You shouldn’t be questioning your ex about how they spend their weekends or about their dating life.

Likewise, don’t discuss your social life or new relationships with your ex, especially in front of the kids. It can create hurt feelings and conflicts that don’t need to spill into co-parenting.

Maintaining privacy around your personal life helps disentangle the previous relationship so you can move forward.

4. Practice Parallel Parenting

When co-parenting is highly contentious, experts often recommend “parallel parenting” instead of actively coordinating. The idea is each parent makes independent decisions about their own parenting time.

For example, if your ex-spouse has the kids over spring break, don’t criticize their plans. As long as the kids are safe, let the other parent make the call during their time.

Parallel parenting prevents getting excessively enmeshed in disagreements over differences in rules or parenting approaches.

5. Allow One-on-One Time with Each Parent

Children need time alone with each parent for bonding and support. Be accommodating about allowing the kids to participate in activities during the other parent’s time without insisting on being present.

For example, if your daughter has an event on your ex’s weekend that she has expressed she wants to go to just with him, don’t demand to attend. Let her have time with just her dad. She’ll appreciate the one-on-one time with each of you.

6. Remain Calm In Disagreements

When tensions inevitably arise, respond calmly. Take a few deep breaths before reacting. Don’t take the bait if your ex tries to provoke an emotional response.

Focus on resolving the issue at hand, not attacking your ex or rehashing old grievances. If needed, speak with a therapist who can help you keep communications productive.

By modeling level-headed conflict resolution, you demonstrate important skills for your kids. Staying composed protects them from adult issues.

7. Don’t Use Kids As Messengers

Resist the urge to use your children as messengers between you and your ex. Comments made through the kids, like criticism of your ex’s rules, inevitably get back to the other parent. This puts kids in the middle.

Never make negative remarks about your ex in front of your children. Kids often internalize blame and may think the divorce was their fault. Shield them from adult problems and speak directly to your ex when needed.

8. Follow A Communication Schedule

To limit potential arguments, set up a structured system for regular communication with your ex. For example, have a standing weekly 5-minute phone call to discuss schedules and upcoming issues.

Email or text only during designated windows, like between 9-5 on weekdays. Avoid late-night angry texts. Stick to Our FamilyWizard or App Close for most logistics.

Following a schedule reduces day-to-day friction while still allowing needed co-parenting conversations. Both of you know when to expect contact.

9. Don’t Bring New Partners To Exchanges

When you do begin dating again, keep new romantic partners away from hand-offs with your ex. At least initially, pick-ups and drop-offs should be strictly parent-to-parent.

Introducing a new girlfriend or boyfriend too early can stir up hurt feelings and conflicts. Your ex may see it as flaunting the new relationship.

Wait until the relationship is established before bringing your new partner around at exchanges. And give your ex a courtesy heads-up first.

10. Set Expectations Around New Partners

Before getting serious with a new romantic partner, discuss expectations. If you will be introducing them to your kids, talk to your ex about what’s appropriate.

How will discipline be handled? How much authority does a new partner have around parenting decisions? These should be worked out upfront to prevent future problems.

Boundaries around new partners help avoid situations that could threaten your amicable co-parenting relationship down the road.

Struggling with Co-Parenting? Consult Our Experienced Family Lawyer

If you need guidance establishing boundaries and moving forward with your co-parenting relationship, a family law attorney at Steele Family Law can help.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We have deep experience in divorce and child custody matters in South Carolina. Our goal is to provide the information and support you need to move into your family’s next chapter with confidence.

Author Bio

Greg Steele is CEO and Managing Partner of Steele Family Law, a South Carolina estate planning and family law firm. With years of experience in practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody and support, estate planning, probate, and other legal cases.

Greg received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia and is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40 in 2022.

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