Communicating with your child’s other parent

Date last updated: 15 October 2017

Making arrangements with your child's other parent

Separation will usually involve working out how to communicate effectively with your child’s other parent. This might be a difficult at first, but there is lots of advice and support out there that can help.

Domestic abuse

If you have experienced domestic abuse or you are worried about your safety, it’s very important that you get specialist advice before communicating with your child’s other parent. Rights of Women have a dedicated family law helpline that can offer advice and support.

Mankind offer online and telephone support and information for men who have experienced domestic abuse. For more information, see our section on staying safe after separating.

Getting advice

The Parent Connection has lots of tips for helping you communicate with your child’s other parent after separating, and how to breakdown communication barriers. If you’d like more help communicating with your child’s other parent, the Parent Connection also has a free online course called ‘getting it right for children when parents part’.

You could also consider making a parenting plan to help with communicating about your children and making arrangements. This website provided by OnePlusOne will help you set up a parenting plan for free.

If you and your child’s other parent need more help to communicate, you can get support from Relate, either together or on your own.

Single parent tips and advice

Sometimes it might help to hear what has worked for other single parents after separating. You can read about how single parents have managed to communicate with their child’s other parent over time in our stories.

Contact arrangements

The most common reason you might have to communicate with your child’s other parent after separating is to arrange when your child spends time with their other parent. This is often called ‘contact’.

If you want to start talking to your child’s other parent about contact arrangements our factsheet, making arrangements for your children can help.

If you can’t agree

It may be difficult to effectively communicate with your child’s other parent after separating. If things get tricky, there are many different options available to help you reach an agreement. Our factsheet, help when you can’t agree, has lots of information and additional sources of support.

We also have detailed frequently asked questions  about contact issues that affect families who are separating or have separated.

Tips from single parents

Keeping calm at Christmas

Never call your ex-partner names in front of your children... tell them the best parts whenever possible and leave it up to the child to decide if the other parent is worth it.

Mum

Try making a 'daddy days' calendar

I made sure that the kids saw him and that they didn’t see any anger between me and him - I tried to hide that fact. The kids need to see visual things so I put up a calendar of daddy days so they could see when they would next see him, because time doesn’t mean anything to them unless they can see it.

Mum, 2 children, age 7 and 4

Always be honest

My son’s dad has spent time in prison and had no interest in contacting/seeing his son. I was always honest with my son and gave him as much information as was appropriate for his age. I was careful to never criticise his dad and always said it was the drugs that made him do the bad things and that he was a really nice guy when not on drugs. Now he is 12 he is finding out for himself what his dad is like. It is hard picking up the pieces but he knows that whatever happens I am here for him and that it isn't his fault his dad isn't interested

See it from both sides

It can be very easy to think everyone else is being unreasonable but not yourself, might be worth standing back and looking at the situation to see it from both sides

Mum

Go out of your way to make things work

1. Always try your best to play fair, it helps to view things as an unbiased outsider 2. Go out of your way to make things work, always be polite and smile 3. Remember why amicable is best, it’s in child’s best interests 4. Think of the long term, bigger picture. It does take time for everything to settle into a good routine 5. Keep a huge stash of haribo, chocolate and /or wine in :)

Mum

The Parent Connection

The Parent Connection provide free online advice for those looking to separate or divorce, or already going through the process. See their advice on maintaining communication with your ex.

Visit the Parent Connection

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