Divorce will drastically change the landscape of your family, as well as the way you live your life. If you share children, a divorce is less the end of your relationship then a change in its nature. After all, shared custody is the most likely outcome, and you will still spend large amounts of time with your ex, even if you only see each other to exchange custody every few days.

If you are going to remain an active part of the lives of your children, you will see each other regardless of how you feel about one another. While you may have strong feelings after your divorce, your best option is to try to find common ground and work together as co-parents moving forward. Accepting your shared parental responsibilities is the critical first step toward developing a new relationship with your ex.

Create a detailed parenting plan that can provide all the answers

The concerns and needs of the children in your family will be unique and dependent on their interests, age and independence. However, your parenting plan should be thorough enough to include the major, foreseeable concerns that will arise in the near future.

Issues such as school performance, extracurricular activities, curfew and even household rules can be outlined in your parenting plan during the divorce. While it may seem like a lot of work to put all of your rules and expectations for your children into writing, doing so helps ensure that there is no confusion on the part of the children or the adults after the divorce.

When everyone is on the same page and shares expectations and guidelines, it is easier to ensure that divorced parents can work together for the kids. It also reduces conflict between parents, because you have already agreed on terms for parenting your children.

Try to leave the emotions from your marriage behind you

While it is totally normal to have strong, potentially negative feelings toward your ex, you need to figure out a way to work through them. Whether that process requires meditation, counseling or talking it out with friends, it is very much worthwhile to address your negative feelings toward your former spouse.

Once you have begun processing and understanding those feelings, you can hopefully begin moving forward into a new stage in your relationship. You need to at least respect one another if you are to successfully co-parent. Ideally, you can work back up to a healthy friendship, since you will likely see one another at sporting events, birthdays and other significant moments in your children’s lives.

Co-parenting is not without its strains, especially when one or both of you begin dating again. However, provided that you are both committed to making the new family arrangement work, co-parenting can be a positive experience for your whole family.