Co-Parenting During a Trial Separation

Sometimes no matter how much two people try to work out their problems they need a little time off from one another. If the couple does not have any children, it’s a simple enough situation to plan out. But, when children are involved it can get more complicated.

Although you might be going through a trial separation and do not plan on making it permanent, you are still living in different locations. That means your children will most likely also be spending time in different locations.

Whenever something like this happens, it’s imperative to remember that whatever choice you and your partner make, it’s you that made it. Your child or children did not make the decision for their parents to separate or “take time off”. Your children need special care and attention during this time; consistency and structure.

Put it in writing!

In order to do what’s best for your children, you will want to create a very clear agreement with your spouse about their well-being. Divorcing spouses have to make a parenting plan that contains information such as but not limited to:

  • How much time each parent will spend with each child
  • Which days and which nights each parent will spend with each child
  • How exchanges of custody will be handled
  • Who is responsible for what financially

While in a trial separation, you don’t need to draft a permanent parenting plan, but any couple with children that plan to separate for any amount of time should draft a temporary parenting plan.

Like a permanent plan, the temporary plan covers all the basics so there won’t be any room for disagreements later on. By planning ahead properly, you limit your children’s stress by avoiding potential arguments and providing the consistency and structure they need.

The best-case scenario is that you and your spouse work together on creating the plan. If you can come to a mutual agreement, you leave out the need for the family court system to get involved (other than approving your plan). If you cannot come to an agreement, then you will need to set up and attend a temporary custody hearing with a judge.

As you can expect, once you get lawyers and the court involved in handling disputes, it can get costly. On top of that, emotions can heat up and what was planned to be a simple, easy break can turn into much more.

So, remember a temporary agreement is exactly what the name implies: temporary. Working with your spouse to come to a short-term agreement with as little friction as possible will save you time, stress, and money, and in the end, that is better for both parents and the children.

For parents that are planning on taking a break from one another after all else has failed in salvaging the relationship, before one packs an overnight bag and heads to a hotel, take a few minutes to work together to make a parenting plan. It is absolutely in the best interest of your children and that is something even the unhappiest of couples can agree is the most important factor to consider when making changes with your family structure.

If you are looking for a great therapist to help you and your family during a relationship separation, Foundations Family Counseling has them. Our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. And, along with a temporary parenting plan, they can help you create the emotional consistency and structure you are all needing, and support you in healing and creating the relationship you want. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at We want to support you in getting the best help available!

~ Tim Backes, senior editor for Custody X Change, a custody calendar software solution.