Divorce means the end of a marriage. However, if you have kids, a new relationship must begin — preferably a positive one. This may be easier if you have an amicable divorce, but it is possible even for couples in contentious situations.
The key to a positive working relationship is keeping in mind that it is a working relationship. You and your ex-spouse are no longer marriage partners, but you are parenting partners. Like partners in a firm, you may each manage a different branch but you are striving for the same goal. In this case, that goal is raising happy, well-adjusted children. The pillars of a productive professional relationship can help you build a cooperative parenting relationship too.
All interactions with your ex should be polite, especially when your children are present. Children sometimes get the notion that they owe more loyalty to one parent than the other. Seeing parents get along can ease any internal conflict that your kids may be experiencing. Maintain a similar courtesy at home as well, never speaking ill of the other parent while the kids may hear.
Do not delve into personal subjects. After divorce, it is none of your business if your ex is dating. Do not share information about your love life, either. Most medical issues and work woes should remain private, as well. Certain situations may warrant exception to these rules, and you will likely know them when they arise. When in doubt, ask yourself if a subject is appropriate for work. If it does not belong in a business meeting, it may not belong at the weekend custody exchange.
Maintain open lines of communication regarding the children and anything that affects them. You will likely need to discuss schedules, school matters and extracurricular activities on a regular basis. You should also share information about big life events such as potential relocation or remarriage. If you are uncertain, ask yourself: What does this have to do with the kids? If the answer is “nothing,” drop the subject immediately. Most of all, remember that communication is a two-way street. Do not just talk to your ex-spouse; listen, too.