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10 Reasons Why Your Child Arrangements Are Not Working

10 Reasons Why Your Child Arrangements Are Not Working (And what you can do about it).

little girl facial expression

Navigating child arrangements after a divorce or separation requires patience, empathy and an ongoing commitment to act in the best interests of your child. Despite your best intentions, sometimes child arrangements don’t work as smoothly as you’d hoped. Understanding the reasons behind these challenges and taking proactive steps can greatly improve the situation for everyone involved. In this blog, we’ll explore 10 reasons why your child arrangements are not working and offer practical solutions to address them.

1. Poor Communication

Poor communication between co-parents is a common reason behind a breakdown in child arrangements. When communication is lacking, misunderstandings can arise, schedules can become muddled, and conflicts can escalate. This not only makes the co-parenting experience stressful for both parents but can also negatively impact the child’s sense of stability and well-being.

What can you do about it:

When co-parents recognise that their communication skills might not be their strongest asset, turning to Family Mediation can be a valuable solution. A mediator can help you put together a Parenting Plan that will help you navigate the complexities of scheduling, decision-making, and other important aspects of raising a child together.

  • Establish Clear Channels – Determine the best method of communication for you both. This could be through text messages, emails, phone calls, or in-person meetings.
  • Be Respectful – Keep the lines of communication respectful and professional. Avoid using communication as a platform for personal grievances or conflicts.
  • Share Information – Ensure that both parents have access to important information about the child’s school, extracurricular activities, medical appointments and any other relevant updates.
  • Communicate Changes Early – If there are any changes to the schedule or plans, communicate them as early as possible. This gives both parents time to adjust and plan accordingly.

2. Unrealistic Expectations

In the difficult balance of co-parenting, unrealistic expectations can quickly become stumbling blocks that hinder effective child arrangements. It’s not uncommon for parents to have expectations that the other parent will have the same level of involvement, commitment and approach as they do. However, failing to align these expectations can lead to frustration, disappointment and unnecessary conflicts.

What can you do about it: 

To counteract this, you need to approach co-parenting with a sense of realism and practicality. Recognising and addressing unrealistic expectations is a vital step toward successful co-parenting.

  • Understanding Different Roles – Recognise that co-parents might have different strengths, schedules, and ways of parenting.
  • Divide Responsibilities – Clearly define and divide responsibilities for the child’s care – such as school pickups, extracurricular activities, medical appointments and more. Be practical about what each parent can reasonably manage given their circumstances.
  • Prioritise the Child – Base your expectations on what’s best for the child’s well-being. The child’s needs and emotional stability should be the primary focus, guiding your decisions and expectations.
  • Respect Each Other’s Boundaries – Co-parents often have different living arrangements and commitments. Respect each other’s boundaries and be considerate of the challenges each parent may face.
  • Recognise Individual Efforts – Acknowledge and appreciate each other’s efforts in co-parenting. Express gratitude for contributions and avoid dwelling on perceived imbalances.

3. Conflicting Schedules

One of the most significant challenges in co-parenting after a separation is juggling busy schedules and demanding work commitments. When both parents have limited time to spare, arranging consistent and meaningful time with the child can be complex.

What can you do about it: 

With careful planning and a focus on flexibility, it’s possible to create a schedule that accommodates everyone’s needs. By accommodating both parents’ schedules and considering the child’s routine, you’re ensuring that the child receives consistent and balanced time with each parent.

  • woman writing in a calendarShared Calendar – Utilise digital tools like shared calendars or co-parenting apps to keep track of schedules, appointments and important dates. This ensures that both parents are informed about the child’s activities.
  • Regular Check-Ins – Establish a routine for regular check-ins with your co-parent to discuss any scheduling adjustments, unexpected events or changes in work commitments.
  • Alternate Weekends and Holidays – Consider alternating weekends and holidays between parents to ensure an equitable distribution of time. This provides the child with consistent and meaningful periods of time to bond with both their parents.
  • Quality Over Quantity – Focus on the quality of the time you spend with your child, rather than just the quantity. Make the most of the time you have by engaging in meaningful activities and conversations.
  • Cooperative Mindset – Approach scheduling with a cooperative mindset. Collaborate with your ex to find solutions that work for everyone involved, including the child.

4. Lack of Flexibility

Inflexibility regarding changes in plans can create friction. Life is inherently unpredictable, and being unyielding in the face of changes can lead to frustration, conflicts and an overall tense co-parenting environment. You need to reflect on whether your lack of flexibility is justified or merely driven by animosity toward your ‘ex’.

What can you do about it:

To ensure smoother co-parenting, it’s helpful to demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to adapt to unexpected situations.

  • Anticipate Change – Understand that circumstances can change at any time, whether due to work commitments, health issues, or unforeseen events. Being prepared to adjust plans helps prevent unnecessary conflicts.
  • Child’s Best Interests – Remember that your child’s well-being is the top priority. Flexibility ensures that the child is not caught in the middle of disagreements and that their emotional stability remains intact.
  • Embrace Compromise – Compromise is essential in co-parenting. Both parents may need to give and take to find a balanced solution that accommodates changes without disrupting the child’s routine excessively.
  • Build Trust – Demonstrating a willingness to adapt to unexpected situations can improve communication and cooperation over time.
  • Separate Personal Issues – Avoid letting personal disagreements or unresolved emotions impact your flexibility. Separate your emotions from the need to adapt to changes.

5. Differing Parenting Styles

Co-parents might have different parenting approaches, which can lead to challenges when not properly managed. These differences can create confusion and inconsistency for the child, affecting their emotional well-being.

What can you do about it:

To create a positive atmosphere, it’s really important for co-parents to align their parenting styles as much as possible. By creating a unified front you can offer a consistent and supportive environment for you child and reduce conflicts between yourselves.

  • Identify Common Ground – Identify areas where your parenting styles naturally align. Build upon these commonalities to establish a foundation of consistency for the child.
  • Open Dialogue – Begin by having an open and honest conversation about your respective parenting styles. Discuss your values, expectations and disciplinary approaches to identify areas of alignment and differences.
  • Prioritise the Child – Keep the child’s well-being at the forefront of the discussion. Agree that any decisions made will be in the child’s best interests, even if it requires compromise from both sides.
  • Compromise – In areas of difference, find ways to compromise and create a blended approach that respects both co-parents’ preferences while still providing a stable environment for the child.

6. Relocation

Relocation of one parent after a divorce or separation can introduce a complex layer of challenges into established child arrangements. The physical distance can disrupt routines, schedules and the child’s sense of stability.

What can you do about it:

Collaboratively addressing relocation helps limit the negative effects on the child and maintains the co-parenting relationship. It demonstrates a commitment to putting the child’s needs first and encourages a sense of cooperation between parents.

  • Explore Solutions – Jointly map out potential solutions that accommodate the distance. This might involve adjusting visitation schedules, organising longer visits during school breaks, or utilising online communication, such as Facetime or WhatsApp video to bridge the gap.
  • Adjust Arrangements – Be willing to modify the existing arrangements to suit the new circumstances. Flexibility is key in managing the changes brought about by relocation.
  • Consistency in Communication – Create a consistent schedule for online communication between the child and the relocating parent. This helps establish a routine and a sense of normalcy.
  • Legal Considerations – Depending on which country you live in, parental relocation might have legal implications. Familiarise yourself with any legal requirements or restrictions to ensure compliance with local laws and travel requirements.

7. Financial Disputes

money - uk currencyThe big ‘M’ – Money! Discussing money frequently serves as a trigger for conflicts. Financial disagreements, particularly related to child support and financial contributions, can introduce significant strain into co-parenting arrangements.

What can you do about it:

To ensure a stable and supportive environment for the child, it’s a must for co-parents to address these disputes proactively, establish clear financial responsibilities and consider seeking the appropriate guidance when needed.

  • Family Mediation – If reaching an agreement seems challenging, consider involving a family mediator. A neutral third party can facilitate discussions, provide insights, and guide both parties towards a viable resolution.
  • Legal Consultation – If disputes persist, consider seeking legal advice. Family law professionals can offer guidance on child support regulations and help co-parents come to a fair agreement.
  • Clearly Define Responsibilities – Outline each parent’s financial responsibilities in writing. This document can serve as a reference point and help prevent future disagreements.
  • Regular Review – Periodically review and adjust financial arrangements as circumstances change. A flexible approach ensures that the child’s needs continue to be met over time.
  • Utilise Resources – Access available resources, such as online calculators for child maintenance, to gain an understanding of what might be reasonable in terms of financial contributions.

8. Emotional Tensions

Lingering emotional tensions from the divorce or separation can have a lasting impact on co-parenting arrangements and on the child’s well-being. Addressing these unresolved emotions is crucial to create a healthy and supportive environment for the child.

What can you do about it:

Addressing emotional tensions contributes to a healthier co-parenting environment. It reduces stress for both parents and the child.

  • Self-Awareness – Acknowledge and assess your own emotional tensions resulting from the divorce or separation. Recognising these feelings is the first step towards managing them.
  • Prioritise the Child – Centre your focus on the child’s emotional well-being. Consider how your actions and conversations might impact them and adjust your behaviour accordingly.
  • Therapeutic Support – Seeking therapy or counselling can provide a safe space to address lingering emotional tensions. Professionals can guide you in processing your feelings, finding constructive ways to communicate and help managing conflict.
  • Support Networks – Lean on friends, family, or support groups to help you navigate your emotions and provide perspective outside of the co-parenting relationship.

9. Involvement of New Partners

The introduction of new partners into the co-parenting dynamic can significantly impact the situation. For the child, the presence of new partners can lead to confusion, emotional discomfort and a need to adapt to changing dynamics in both households. It can also impact co-parenting dynamics. It requires navigating additional personalities, preferences and potential challenges.

What can you do about it:

Handling this transition with sensitivity and open communication is vital to ensure that the child’s well-being remains a priority. By discussing the involvement of new partners with each other and being mindful of the child’s feelings, co-parents can navigate this potentially challenging situation more effectively.

  • Couple Holding HandsPrioritise Child’s Feelings – Put the child’s feelings and emotional well-being at the forefront. Consider their perspective and involve them in discussions if they are old enough to provide input.
  • Timing is Key – Introducing new partners should be done thoughtfully and considerately. Avoid introducing new partners too soon after the separation, as it can overwhelm the child.
  • Mindful Introductions – When introducing new partners to the child, do so gradually and in a neutral setting. Allow the child to form their own opinion over time.
  • Be Respectful – Be mindful of each other’s feelings when it comes to introducing new partners. Respect boundaries and be open to discussing any concerns.
  • Be Prepared for Reactions – Children might have various reactions to the introduction of new partners. Some might be accepting, while others might struggle. Be patient and supportive as they navigate their feelings.

10. Legal Issues

When one parent repeatedly disregards the agreements, it can lead to resentment and instability for both parents and the child. It erodes trust between you, making it difficult to maintain an amicable and cooperative co-parenting relationship.

What can you do about it:

To address these situations effectively, seeking legal advice can become necessary to enforce court-ordered arrangements and request compliance with them.

  • Document Incidents – Keep a record of each instance where a court order has not been adhered to, including dates and times. This documentation can be useful when seeking legal assistance.
  • Communication – Initiate a conversation with the other parent about the issue. Approach the conversation calmly and provide an opportunity to explain their perspective.
  • Seek Legal Advice – If a court order is persistently ignored, despite attempts at resolution, consult with a family lawyer to explore your legal options. They can advise you on how to proceed based on your specific situation.
  • Family Mediation: Consider involving a family mediator to facilitate a productive conversation and potentially resolve the issues outside of a courtroom. Family mediation will not only save you money, it also allows for a more amicable outcome. This teamwork approach lets co-parents find practical solutions, tailored to their unique situation.


Child's birthday partyIn navigating these common challenges, always remember that the well-being of your child should be the primary concern. Change is unavoidable and personal differences should be set aside for the sake of your child.

When facing difficulties with child arrangements, which is quite normal, focus on finding solutions that prioritise your child’s best interests. By actively addressing these issues and collaborating effectively, you can foster a more peaceful co-parenting relationship that promotes your child’s healthy growth and emotional wellbeing.

Ultimately, the path of co-parenting is paved with choices – and it usually best to choose unity, choose collaboration and ultimately, choose your child’s happiness.

 Do you need help putting a Parenting Plan together? Book a free 15-minute consultation with our Business Support team today, and find out how Family Mediation can help you.

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