As a family lawyer, it is always enlightening to hear about examples of successful co-parenting. Over the Christmas period, divorced Drew Barrymore took to social media to provide a glimpse of the shared parenting her young daughters benefitted from over the holidays. On Christmas Day, Drew shared some photos and videos on Instagram of herself, former husband Will Kopelman and their young daughters Olive and Frankie hitting the slopes together.
In 2016, at the time of separating Drew and Will released a joint statement. They let the world know that, although their family was separating legally, that did not take away from them being a family in other senses. Looking forward, they wanted to live the rest of their lives with their daughters as their first priority. That is the top tip for successful co-parenting after separation: the needs of the children should come first.
Drew and Will aren't the only high profile couple who have decided, and apparently managed, to work together to ensure that the needs of their children trump any issues which the parents may have with each other.
While taking family law advice from someone better trained in appearing before the video camera isn't recommended, here are some other celebrity tips for co-parenting. For the record, we fully endorse them all:
Drew Barrymore also recognises the importance of ensuring that both parent remain involved in the lives of the children. She identifies constantly "planning planning planning" as being crucial to successful co-parenting. In co-parenting relationships, both parents ought to be kept fully informed of events, appointments and other commitments which will affect the child. It is better that notice be provided so that arrangements can be made in plenty of time. This also provides children with certainty and security.
2. Be on the same page
Reese Witherspoon separated from her husband Ryan Phillippe in 2006. The couple have two children together. In 2008, the Legally Blonde star was quoted as stating that, despite separating, she and her ex-husband were on the same page when it came to parenting. These are wise words from an on-screen lawyer; working together is essential to a successful co-parenting relationship.
3. Don't speak critically of your former partner
Actor, Josh Duhamel and singer, Fergie separated in September of last year. They have a four year old son. Earlier this week, Josh publicly stated that Fergie was a "great mother". Speaking positively of the other parent can go a long way to promote a positive relationship. Importantly, it can show a child that, although his or her parents no longer live together, they can be respectful and supportive of each other.
4. Respect different parenting styles
Hollywood stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner appear to have mastered co-parenting. They have three children together. Ben, in particular, acknowledges that he and his former wife have quite different parenting styles. He is a fairly relaxed parent and Jennifer is a bit more strict. She, for example, doesn't agree with Ben's stance on their daughter having a mobile phone. Ben acknowledges the importance of recognising that both parents "have the best interest of the kids at heart". It is important for separated parents to appreciate that the other may have a quite different parenting style. As frustrating as that may be, it is worthwhile remembering that it is very likely that the other parent is equally committed to promoting the child's best interests.
5. Be happy!
Actor Orlando Bloom and former model Miranda Kerr separated in 2013. They have one son together. Miranda's view is that it is important for their son to have two happy parents. Last year, Orlando wished his ex-wife a happy birthday on social media. He referred to her as an amazing co-parent, mother and friend. Both parents appear to have moved on. They are happy in their separate lives and with their co-parenting. It is essential that children experience a happy environment. One of the most crucial roles parents have (whether parenting under the same roof or apart) is to demonstrate to children how to live a fulfilling and happy life.
It is undoubtedly the case that children benefit from being raised by parents who can work together to make joint decisions and to ensure the children's needs come first. Such an environment brings with it stability, routine, mutual respect and a sense of worth to the lives of children. As a team, we are wholly committed to working with our clients to resolve family disputes in a way which is least disruptive to the wellbeing of the children. After all, they find themselves in the middle of a situation they very rarely have any control over.
If you require any advice in relation to parenting after separating, do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.