The days of mothers taking primary custody while dads get a weekend of visitation here or there are largely over. Outside of certain extenuating circumstances, experts now agree that it is healthy for children to regularly see both of their parents after divorce. Parents usually accomplish this through joint custody, giving each parent roughly equal amounts of parenting time. It also requires a consistent dedication to co-parenting.

It is never too early or too late to try out new co-parenting strategies. This is true whether you are still in the divorce process, are just adjusting to life after divorce or have been sharing custody for years. Consider some of the following strategies for effective co-parenting.

Make a schedule, but be flexible

One generally establishes parenting time in a child custody agreement. However, you might not have thought about transitioning between those times. Unnecessary tensions and confusion can arise without a clear understanding of where and at what time parents will meet for hand-off. Scheduling a routine for drop-offs or pick-ups can erase that possibility.

Unfortunately, life can easily disrupt even the best-laid plans. Emergencies happen, family members get sick and rush-hour traffic can delay your commute home. If you and your ex can accommodate reasonable changes to the schedule as necessary, sharing co-parenting duties will be much easier.

Include your child’s other parent

Since no schedule is perfect, you may unexpectedly need childcare during your scheduled parenting time. While your first instinct might be to call a babysitter, you may want to call your child’s other parent first. Deferring to your ex-spouse for childcare — and vice versa — keeps both of you actively involved in your child’s life. And if your ex cannot take on those childcare duties, he or she will still be in the loop about the child’s babysitter.

Inclusion as a strategy for effective co-parenting extends beyond the home. If your child has a recital, school meeting or sporting event, he or she would probably appreciate both you and your ex-spouse showing up. Some parents worry about how others will perceive these actions. It is important to remember that other people are not involved in your co-parenting relationship, so showing up to jointly support your child is a great strategy to test out.

Remember, your child comes first

Alabama parents usually just want what is best for their children. In many cases, this means ending an unhappy marriage in order to provide a more emotionally stable environment. Settling into a co-parenting routine is not always easy at first, and you may even feel like giving up. Instead, try implementing some of these strategies in addition to increased lines of communication. You might be surprised by how well they can work.

It is possible to include parameters supporting these strategies in your child custody agreement. However, without guidance, it is easy to overlook important co-parenting topics that you may want to address. Instead of taking the chance of leaving something out of your agreement, you should consider securing the guidance of an experienced family law attorney, who may be able to provide valuable insight on your family’s unique situation.