Psychology Today

​Co-Parenting After Divorce

Rising to the challenge

What Exactly Is 'The Best Interest of the Child?', Part 2

The Metaphysical Needs of Children After Parental Divorce

When parents are asked about the essential needs of their children during and after parental separation, children’s emotional, psychological, social, moral and spiritual needs are seen to be of paramount importance. But what exactly are these “metaphysical” needs?

What Exactly Is “The Best Interest of the Child”?

The Essential Needs of Children After Parental Divorce 
A truly child-focused approach positions children’s needs at the forefront of “best interests” considerations, along with corresponding parental and social institutional responsibilities to these needs.

How Do We Tell the Kids About the Divorce?

Guidelines for talking with children about parental separation

Many children firmly believe that they are the reason for the divorce. Further, most children secretly believe their parents will get back together, or wish that they would, and try to “fix” things and figure out ways of keeping them together.

How Do We Tell the Kids About the Divorce?

Guidelines for talking with children about parental separation

Many children firmly believe that they are the reason for the divorce. Further, most children secretly believe their parents will get back together, or wish that they would, and try to “fix” things and figure out ways of keeping them together.

What Makes for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce?

Ten key principles that enable children to flourish
These principles are offered in the spirit that parents have the strengths, capacities and abilities to help children through the difficult transitions attendant to divorce, and will be able do the best for their children with concrete, practical support.

Research Consensus Statement on Co-Parenting After Divorce

Conclusions of the First International Conference on Shared Parenting
These conclusions are seen to be groundbreaking as a consensus statement was produced by the world's leading researchers and practitioners in the field of co-parenting after divorce, which is intended to serve as a guide for family lawmakers, policymakers, and practitioners around the globe.

Co-Parenting Infants and Very Young Children, Part 2

A Response to New Critiques of Shared Parenting of Babies and Toddlers
Just as we encourage parents in intact families to share care of their children, the social science evidence on the development of healthy parent–child relationships, and the long-term benefits of healthy parent–child relationships, supports the view that shared parenting should be the norm for post-divorce parenting plans for children of all ages, including infants.

Developing Evidence-Based Approaches to Children's Needs

New international shared parenting organization established by divorce scholars
The first international shared parenting organization has been established to develop evidence-based approaches to the needs and rights of children whose parents are living apart.

The Voices of Children of Divorce

Listening to the real experts on the “best interests of the child”
A paradigm shift is needed: the well-being of children as they define it must take precedence over judicial biases and preferences, professional self-interest, gender politics, the desire of a parent to remove the other from the child’s life, and the wishes of a parent who is found to be a danger to the child.

Relocation and Co-Parenting

The challenge of co-parenting over long distances
To the extent that relocation threatens children’s relationships with a parent, and their existing social network, the potential adverse effects of relocation should be at the forefront of decision-making about the residential arrangements of children after divorce.

Parallel Parenting After Divorce

Making Co-parenting Work in High Conflict Families
Parallel co-parenting in high conflict divorces begins the healing process between parents, to the ultimate benefit of their children.

"Bird's Nest" Co-Parenting Arrangements

When Parents Rotate In and Out of the Family Home

Rather than the children having to adapt to the parents’ needs and living in two separate dwellings, they remain in the family home and the parents take turns moving in and out, like birds alighting and departing the “nest.”

Parent-Child Reunification After Alienation

Strategies to Reunite Alienated Parents and Their Children

Children and parents who have undergone forced separation from each other in the absence of abuse, including cases of parental alienation, are highly subject to post-traumatic stress, and reunification efforts in these cases should proceed carefully and with sensitivity.

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Parents

Post-traumatic Stress in the Rupture of Parent-child Relationships

​The key to engaging alienated parents is to validate their parental identity, and combine advocacy efforts with counseling focused on enhancing their role as active and responsible parents.

The Impact of Parental Alienation on Children

Undermining Loving Parent-Child Relationships as Child Maltreatment

Parental alienation involves the “programming” of a child by one parent to denigrate the other (targeted) parent, in an effort to undermine and interfere with the child's relationship with the targeted parent, and is often a sign of a parent’s inability to separate from the couple conflict and focus on the needs of the child.

Co-Parenting Infants and Very Young Children

The Importance of Preserving Early Primary Attachments

The failure to recognize the depth of children’s attachments to both of their parents is the most significant omission of traditional attachment theorists. In those families in which children are securely attached to two parents who have been integrally involved as caregivers, co-parenting after divorce is vital to infants' and young children's well-being.

Equal Parenting and the Quality of Parent-Child Attachments

The Link Between Quantity of Time and Quality of Parent-Child Relationships

Equal parental responsibility provides a context and climate for the continuation or development of high quality parent-child relationships, allowing both parents to remain authoritative, responsible, involved, attached, emotionally available, supportive, and focused on children’s day-to-day lives.

Family Therapy and Parenting Coordination to Reduce Conflict

Co-parenting Interventions in High Conflict Cases

Children’s needs for protection from parental conflict must be addressed before the establishment of any co-parenting arrangement after separation, and a full range of supports must be made available to parents in high conflict situations. Within these programs, children’s needs become a means of connecting the parents in a positive direction.

Divorce Education and Therapeutic Family Mediation To Resolve Parenting Disputes

Facilitating the Development of Co-Parenting Plans

When it comes to the resolution of co-parenting-related matters, programs and services such as divorce education and therapeutic family mediation are much more than dispute resolution devices. More than anything else, these are vital interventions that should serve primarily to increase parents’ attunement to their children’s needs and “best interests.”

Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger

The Vital Importance of Paternal Presence in Children’s Lives

Whereas parents in general are not supported as parents by our social institutions, divorced fathers in particular are devalued, disparaged, and forcefully disengaged from their children’s lives. Researchers have found that for children, the results are nothing short of disastrous, along a number of dimensions.

Co-Parenting and High Conflict

Separating Former Marital Disputes from Ongoing Parenting Responsibilities

Conflict is a normal part of everyday life, and to completely shield children from normal day-to-day conflict may in fact be doing them a disservice, as conflict presents an opportunity for resolution of disputes, healing and reconciliation. Conflict is not inherently bad for children. It is persistent, unresolved conflict that is dangerous for children.

Sixteen Arguments in Support of Co-Parenting

What the Latest Research is Saying about the Best Interests of Children

Our current system of resolving child custody disputes rarely considers either children’s needs from children’s own perspective, or current research on child custody outcomes.

Dr Edward Kruk

Edward Kruk, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, specializing in child and family policy. As a child and family social worker in Canada and the U.K., he has practiced in the fields of welfare rights, child protection, school social work, hospital social work, and family services. He is currently teaching and practicing in the areas of family mediation and addiction. He the author of many books including The Equal Parent Presumption: Social Justice in the Legal Determination of Parenting After Divorce; Divorced Fathers: Children's Needs and Parental Responsibilities; Mediation and Conflict Resolution in Social Work and the Human Services; and Divorce and Disengagement. He is President of the International Council on Shared Parenting.