by Kathleen Marriott B. Psyc (Hons) MSoH

Tips for communicating, prioritizing self-care, and setting boundaries.


  • Co-parenting after separation or divorce is challenging. Co-parenting models provide effective roadmaps and knowledge.
  • Effective communication and healthy boundaries are essential for successful post-divorce co-parenting relationships.
  • Prioritizing self-care and seeking support through counseling or support groups are highly recommended steps for challenges of post-divorce life.

Divorce can be a complex issue, particularly in high-conflict situations. However, with knowledge and support, healthy co-parenting relationships can be established. Two effective frameworks for co-parenting after divorce are the Three Stages of Co-Parenting and Strength-Based models. These models provide structure and guidelines for setting boundaries, promoting emotional well-being, and facilitating communication between ex-spouses. Following these models, even previously high-conflict families can learn to work collaboratively, caring for themselves and their children. Using a co-parenting model provides a roadmap for navigating the complexities of divorce. In addition, it helps parents establish a foundation for successful co-parenting.

Co-Parenting Models

The Three Stages of Co-Parenting

Kiefer & Kaufman Kantor’s Three Stage Theory, a robust model that characterizes distinct stages for co-parenting after Divorce, serves as the basis of modern theories and is referenced in multiple books:

The three stages:

1. Transitional Separation of individual needs and goals is expressed with mutual respect.

2. Integration/Parental Cooperation involves collaboration on parenting decisions.

3. Consolidated Co-Parenting promotes a peaceful understanding while respecting legal obligations and personal boundaries.

Strength-Based Model of Co-Parenting

The Strengths-Based Co-Parenting Model, developed by Ronald Richardson in the 80s, is widely used in parenting programs today with a child-focused concept.

The model encourages:

1. Open communication and dialogue between both parents.

2. Acknowledges individual strengths and uses those as a basis for fostering cooperation.

3. Reminds both parents that their child’s welfare is paramount and that disagreements are addressed in a constructive manner.

4. Promotes family activities, such as attending parent/teacher conferences or celebrating important milestones.

5. Promotes values, respect, and compromise regardless of differences in opinion.

6. Emphasizes constructive conflict resolution.

Communication Is Key

Maintaining healthy and effective communication with your ex-partner is crucial to building a positive co-parenting relationship after divorce. By keeping lines of communication open and positive, parents can prioritize the well-being of their children and work together more effectively. Regular communication can also help reduce conflicts between parents, leading to more positive outcomes for all involved. If you are struggling to communicate with your ex-partner, remember that it is a necessary step in building a successful co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your children.

Prioritize Self Care

During times of stress related to custody arrangements, self-care is crucial. For individuals experiencing divorce, paying attention to self-care needs and fulfilling parental obligations is highly recommended. In addition, to maintain emotional steadiness while dealing with complicated post-separation situations with ex-partners, engaging in activities outside of parenting, for example, finding joy in simple activities, connecting with friends, joining support groups, and seeking counseling, can also be beneficial. Remember, self-care is a priority when navigating custody issues and after divorce.

Boundary Setting

Establishing specific limits is vital for building thriving co-parenting alliances post-divorce, particularly in high-conflict scenarios. In addition, it enables the growth of an environment where both parties can rear their children without hiccups, even after experiencing significant changes.

Tips for Setting Boundaries

  1. Communicate Clearly: Post-divorce, clear communication is critical. Setting boundaries requires open and honest communication. Remember that clarity is vital, and misunderstandings can lead to conflicts.
  2. Separate Your Emotions: Co-parenting in high-conflict relationships is challenging, and getting caught up in your emotions is easy. It’s easier to establish effective boundaries when you’re being objective.
  3. Practice Assertive Communication: Assertiveness is essential to set boundaries in post-divorce co-parenting relationships. Using “I” statements clearly stating what you will and will not accept can help you communicate effectively.
  4. Be Consistent: Consistency is critical when it comes to boundaries. Be clear about what you will and will not tolerate, and stick to your limits, even in difficult situations.
  5. Take Care of Yourself: Setting boundaries can be emotionally taxing. Therefore, it’s crucial to take care of yourself during the process. Remember to prioritize self-care.
  6. Keep the Children’s Needs in Mind: Remember that your children are a priority. Therefore, when setting boundaries, consider what is in their best interest.
  7. Seek Support: Counseling, support groups, and legal support are necessary when dealing with complex divorces.


Divorce is a complex issue, especially in high-conflict cases, and can be challenging to navigate. To promote a constructive co-parenting relationship and prioritize the emotional well-being of both parents and children, it is crucial to establish boundaries, promote emotional well-being, and facilitate communication. By utilizing a robust and researched model, parents can learn practical communication skills, improve collaboration, and follow a clear roadmap for navigating the divorce process. Overall, prioritizing self-care is essential during this difficult time.

Successful post-divorce co-parenting requires open and honest communication, prioritizing self-care, setting healthy boundaries, and putting children’s needs first. When facing co-parenting challenges after divorce, seeking support from counseling, support groups, and legal avenues is highly recommended. By following these essential steps, parents can navigate the co-parenting process more effectively and prioritize the well-being of themselves and their children.

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