Don't fight in front of the kids. Sounds simple, right? However, in reality one of the most difficult challenges facing separating parents is deciding how they will divide responsibility for and time with their children. Why? Because both parents will have less time with their children when they are not spending their time with the children together but dividing their children's time between them. And yes, it's sometimes possible to arrange for equal or shared residentail responsibility when separated parents live near each other, co-parent together and the children handle transitions well, but those types of parenting plans are in the  minority. Parents sometimes fear that their separation from their spouse will also mean the loss of their parent-child relationship unless their parenting plan is precisely equal time wise or are concerned about the potential negative impact of their separation on their children’s healthy development.  Thanks to the large body of research completed over the last decade, we now have a better understanding of the impact of separation and divorce on children.

The more important point and one of the most consistent research findings is that children are harmed when they are exposed to conflict between their parents. Using this research makes it possible to better assess and meet their needs when drafting parenting plans that are in the best interests of the children.


We now know that:


  • Children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their lives.

  • Each parent has different and valuable contributions to make to their children’s development.

  • Children should have structured, routine time as well as unstructured time with each parent.

  • Parents often find that it is better for their young children to spend more time with parents and less time with third-party caregivers.

  •  Parents should help their children maintain their positive existing peer relationships, routines and activities.

  • Communication and cooperation between parents are important in arranging children’s activities.

  • Consistent rules and values in both households create a sense of security for children of any age.

  • Parents should allow children to bring personal items back and forth between homes, no matter who purchased them.

  • Parenting plans need to be adjusted over time as each family member’s needs, schedules and circumstances change.

  • It is of critical importance that parents do not argue or fight when they are picking up or dropping off their children.