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Couples with Young Children: Navigating Custody and Co-Parenting

Co-parenting after a separation or divorce is a challenging task, particularly when the children are young. As attorneys at Orlando Family Team, we have worked with a great many restructured families with young children over the years. As a result, we have developed a number of insights into co-parenting that may be helpful to you and your loved ones so we are sharing them here. 

Co-Parenting Young Children of Different Ages

From birth on, your children are adapting to their changing bodies and altered surroundings. It is, of course, your job as a parent to help them adjust while maintaining a sense of security and trust. This is especially true after a separation or divorce.  


Co-parenting infants requires a deep understanding of their basic needs and routines. It’s crucial for both parents to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, napping, and playtime. Early on, most infants will need to be nursed by their mothers, but their fathers must have significant time to bond with them as well. Communication is key to ensuring that both homes provide a similar level of care and emotional support.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

As children grow, their emotional and developmental needs evolve. For toddlers and preschoolers, maintaining a stable routine in both homes is vital. Parents should collaborate to ensure consistency in daily routines, disciplinary approaches, snacks, nap times, baths, and potty training methods so that the children can grow and learn with as much stability (and as little confusion and anxiety) as possible.

School-Age Children

As children enter school, their social and educational needs become more complicated. The more in sync the parents are with one another in supporting their child’s learning and social activities (e.g. sports, music lessons, playdates), the easier it will be for the children to relax with each parent and to feel peaceful during transitions. 

Consistency in educational support across both homes can greatly benefit the child’s academic progress. Though more independent, most school-age children will still need to be reminded to follow hygiene, grooming, and homework routines. No matter what age your children are, they will follow the lead of both parents in social protocol and creating and maintaining relationships.

The Importance of Adherence to Schedules for Parenting Time or Joint Custody

Co-parenting works best when both parents adhere to a well-planned schedule. Children feel most at ease when pick-ups and deliveries between their two homes go smoothly and they can count on planned timetables. 

Nonetheless, life is unpredictable, and flexibility is essential. Parents should strive to be accommodating in the face of unexpected events, such as illness or emergencies while maintaining the overall structure of the parenting schedule. The more parental tempers are kept in check, the better the child will deal with delays or surprises.

Each Parent’s Residence Should Feel Like Home 

Creating a warm, restorative environment in both residences is critical for the child’s emotional well-being. Each home should have a personal space for the child that houses familiar, comforting items. At different stages, such a space may include toys, stuffed animals, books, photos, puzzles, collectibles, or sports paraphernalia. Most importantly, each child should have a welcoming place where they feel safe to unwind, have private discussions, and sleep peacefully.

The Children Must Always Come First

Co-parenting young children after a separation or divorce requires a great deal of cooperation, understanding, and flexibility on the part of both parents. As long as you both keep your eyes on the prize, focusing on the needs and well-being of your children, you won’t go far wrong. By providing them with a nurturing, secure environment that supports their growth and development, you are giving them the best chance of growing up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. 

Our Experienced Child Custody Attorneys Are Always Available

We know that no matter how well-intentioned or devoted you are as a parent, life after divorce will not be stress-free. Even after a divorce is final, issues that require resolution or modifications may arise. If this should happen in your case, contact us for excellent advice and, if necessary, skilled representation.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.