Family & Divorce

Co-Parenting or Co-operative Parenting – what does it mean?

“Co-Parenting” or “shared care” is a phrase used widely by lawyers and Judges when considering a child’s welfare in court proceedings.

27 Mar 2023

Team name
Sally Ward

Sally Ward

Shared care is often misunderstood as an arrangement where the child or children spend equal amounts of time with each parent. What it actually means is parents who have separated sharing their time and involvement in bringing up their children in a way that works for their children. If you think about it, even parents who are still together rarely manage to split the childcare 50/50 as work and other life or family commitments mean this is simply not workable.

Co-parenting means building a better relationship with the other parent to enable you to take actions and make decisions in the best interests of your child.

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew MacFarlane, recently said that “Co-Operative parenting” is a phrase which is a better phrase.  CAFCASS agree with this and say that whilst the phrase “co-parenting” is used widely by professionals, it is rarely by parents themselves.

Ways to do this can include:

  • Separating your personal feelings towards your ex from the parenting relationship you have with your ex: this enables you to make decisions in your child’s best interests.
  • Making sure that you consult with the other parent in relation to all important decisions about your child
  • Making sure that you have an effective line of communication.
  • Always speak positively about the other parent in front of and in ear shot of your child
  • Try to respect the other parent’s parenting style even if it differs with your own
  • Ensuring that you do not discuss financial issues or any court proceedings with your child or in front of your child

M&P Commentary

Sally Ward, Head of our Family team said:

“It is not easy and it takes two willing parents and a little bit of work to be able to move forward in an effective “co-parenting/co-operative parenting relationship”.  We can help with that by trying to open up a dialogue with the other parent and pointing you in the direction of resources and other agencies that can help.”


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