It may be impossible in some circumstances for parents in California to co-parent after a divorce. These circumstances include abuse, incarceration and abandonment. In other cases, parents may simply be unable to communicate well enough to have an effective co-parenting relationship.

Healthy co-parenting requires a number of conditions to be in place in addition to communication. Parents need to be consistent in terms of their rules between households and set clear boundaries. They need to stick to the agreed-upon schedules while also being flexible when necessary. Parents should keep one another updated on any relevant life changes and check with one another before making plans with the children. They should be able to attend events together without conflict, respect one another’s relationship with the children and agree on how to raise their children in terms of religion, education and medical care.

Some parents may suffer from narcissism or another rare psychological disorder that makes successful co-parenting impossible. Others might engage in parental alienation, which is an effort to turn a child against the other parent. Parents may try to control one another or may become too caught up in anger at one another to focus on the children. Parents may simply just be unable to cooperate for the same reasons their marriage ended.

Parents may want to put some language in the parenting agreement that helps them share custody and visitation rights despite these difficulties. For example, they might agree to only use online child custody tools to communicate about pickups and dropoffs. After some time has passed following the divorce, they may be able to coparent more effectively. However, if the child is in danger with an abusive or neglectful parent, a judge may not allow that parent to have access to the child or might only allow supervised visitation.