Parents in Pennsylvania can take steps to strengthen their co-parenting relationships during and after divorce. Effective co-parenting may help children feel more secure, teach good problem-solving techniques, reduce conflict and improve communication. It could also help ensure both parents remain active in the life of the child.

Parents can work with their attorneys to create a written parenting plan. This will address some of the potential areas of conflict. Among the things that a parenting plan usually addresses are when the child is with each parent, where exchanges take place, where the child will spend holidays, how decisions and conflicts will be resolved and how changes will be made to the parenting plan. Establishing this plan helps to reduce the role of emotions in the co-parenting relationship and shift it to a more businesslike terrain.

It is also important for each parent to support and encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent. Exes should avoid venting about one another to the child or putting the child in the middle in any other way. It can be difficult to set aside strong emotions in order to co-parent effectively, so parents should turn to friends and family for support. If necessary, they should not hesitate to seek out the help of professional therapists.

Many parents are able to negotiate a child custody and visitation agreement without going to court. This is usually less costly and less stressful for all involved. However, if negotiations are unsuccessful and parents do have to go to court, it is still possible to create a functioning co-parenting relationship afterward. Parents should focus on the best interests of the children just as a judge does when making decisions about who will get custody.