Co-parenting after separation – challenges and opportunities

March 1, 2021

The importance of family cannot be overstated, with our parents, partners, and children playing a huge role in our happiness and sense of wellbeing. Everyone wants a happy and stable family life – however, conflict and separation can arise for many reasons. Family breakups can be emotional, complicated, and highly stressful, especially when there are kids involved. In order to make the most of a challenging situation, it’s important to support your children and yourself with family-based mediation.

What is mediation?
Mediation, also known as Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), helps parents resolve a variety of disputes during the separation or divorce process. Resolving issues through mediation offers a range of benefits to all parties, with trained FDR practitioners offering support, guidance, and practical assistance during a difficult time. FDR is a voluntary service that helps people reach financial agreements, resolve family issues, and reduce the conflict experienced by many children during and after the separation phase.

What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting is an arrangement where both parents play an active role in the child’s life. While domestic violence, substance abuse, and criminal issues can prevent co-parenting, in most cases, it’s the best way to promote accessible parenting and well supported children. Co-parenting can involve a range of formal and informal arrangements, with the following elements important to address:

  • Custody agreements
  • Visitation and contact schedules
  • Financial arrangements
  • Medical needs and concerns
  • Childhood education
  • Holiday programs and events
  • Parenting and decision-making guidelines

The importance of good co-parenting for children
Co-parenting after a separation or divorce is incredibly important but rarely easy. When parents are unable to live together, it’s crucial to reach a consensus regarding children and all other common relationship factors. Positive co-parenting involves mutually beneficial agreements between all parties, with children ideally placed front and centre of every single decision. Positive co-parenting helps to provide consistency, security, and understanding to children at all stages of life.

Co-parenting challenges for parents
A number of challenges have to be met to ensure a positive co-parenting arrangement. Many factors can influence these agreements, including past emotional conflicts, ineffective communication, financial limitations, legal issues, and lifestyle factors linked to location and resources. In order to create the best environment for your child, it’s important to recognise, respect, and overcome the following challenges:

  • Past relationship problems – existing emotional pain and complexity between parents can create conflicts if they’re not identified and addressed.
  • Financial and legal issues – when parents separate, pre-existing financial issues, parenting support payments, and legal issues related to custody and property can create complex challenges.
  • Location and lifestyle factors – problems can easily arise when parents are living in different locations, with issues also likely when divergent lifestyle factors influence parenting styles.

How CatholicCare’s mediation team can help
Along with many challenges, co-parenting offers a number of opportunities to parents and children alike. When family living arrangements are no longer possible, it’s important to look ahead and move forward with confidence to ensure the best possible outcomes.

CatholicCare mediation is a trusted FDR service that helps families to see things clearly and make the right decisions for their children every day. Our FDR programs help parents work through issues and promote the following:

  • Clarify and respect existing issues and emotions
  • Prioritise and improve communication
  • Work as a team for the benefit of the children
  • Ensure fair accessibility and visitation
  • Access tailored help from a trained specialist
  • Remember that kids are always the priority


We recently produced a series of videos specifically for separated parents. This suite of videos can be viewed here. They focus on a range of topics including:

  • We’re newly separated – what’s next and preparing for mediation
  • Effective communication
  • Controlling your emotions during separation
  • Protecting kids during separation
  • The importance of co-parenting


Our Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation services are offered at all of our Family Centres – Brookvale, Naremburn, Waitara and Tuggerah.

All enquiries for Brookvale, Naremburn and Waitara, please contact our  Waitara Family Centre
P: (02) 9488 2400

If you’re on the Coast, please contact our Central Coast Family Centre
P: (02) 4356 2600


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