Divorcing couples who share children have to deal with two serious issues that couples without children don't. First, they have to worry about how to minimize or mitigate the potentially destructive impact of divorce on the kids. Secondly, they also have to find some way to work together in a professional or friendly manner for the foreseeable future.
Couples without children can divorce and go their separate ways. They may never see one another again. Couples with kids typically can't always avoid each other, no matter how acrimonious the divorce becomes. There will be regular exchanges of custody, to say nothing of important days like birthdays, holidays and graduations. On those special days, the children are likely going to be happiest if both of their parents can be there.
The truth is that the solution to the second concern is also part of the solution to the first one. In other words, if parents can find a way to work together to raise their kids, they can likely also minimize how hard the divorce is on the children.
To make things work, you need firm rules
One of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your co-parenting relationship with your ex is to fully commit to creating a parenting plan. That plan should have guidance in it for any predictable situation your family will encounter. From routine parenting time concerns to the division of holidays, birthdays and special events, your parenting plan should tackle every difficult situation.
You should also include rules for the children as well as the parents. You may want to have rules in place about how you communicate, especially during times of conflict. If you can both refer to the parenting plan and abide by the terms you set, you will be able to navigate even the most emotionally difficult circumstances that arise after your divorce.
Let the children serve as the foundation for your new relationship
You and your ex don't have to be best buddies in order to parent well together. You don't need to spend time alone with each other, get each other birthday presents or magically become best friends again. However, you do need to be able to be generally nice and at least professional with one another.
Ideally, you can approach your interactions with your ex from a place of compassion and compromise. If you both try to be flexible when issues arise, you will be able to navigate difficult situations without creating hostile interactions that will upset your children. It can be difficult to work with your ex after a divorce. However, if you stay focused on your kids, the chances are good that you can make your co-parenting relationship work.