Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Parenting tips after family break-up, separation or divorce

2-minute read

Your relationship with your partner has ended, but you are still parents of the same children. Everyone’s situation is different, but you need to work out how you will continue parenting your children in a positive and cooperative way.

Remember, one of the most valuable ways to help your children adjust to their new circumstances is successful co-parenting.

Here are some parenting tips for separated or divorced parents:

  • Develop a parenting plan - This lets both of you know what is expected of each other in terms of parenting rights and responsibilities. The plan should include living arrangements, custody or visitation schedules, finances, education, medical and emotional care.
  • Manage family conflicts - Ongoing conflicts can really hurt children. If communicating with your former partner is difficult, counselling can help. Contact the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321.
  • Accept you may have different parenting styles - As long as your children are safe and secure, the children will learn that different rules apply in different situations.
  • Give your former partner time to adjust - If you previously did most of the parenting then your former partner will need some time to learn the ropes as a single parent. If you haven’t done much of the parenting, give your partner time to adjust to your new skills and level of responsibility.

For more information

For parenting plans see the Relationships Australia booklet Share the care: Parenting Plan - collaborative parenting apart.

Last reviewed: December 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

When your grandchilds parents divorce | Raising Children Network

If your grandchilds parents separate or divorce, you might be worried about the whole family. Any support you can give will help them adjust to the change.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Waking from the nightmare | Grief and loss | ReachOut Australia

She lost her sister. Her parents divorced. She was sexually abused. Read how she took control of her own nightmare.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Divorce | Protect your teen with Family Transitions TripleP tips - TripleP Positive Parenting Australia

Your divorce may impact on your teenager's behaviour & emotional state. Find out how to prevent long-term damage with this positive parenting course.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Parenting arrangements after separation

The way in which parents handle separation and divorce has an enormous effect on the way children cope with their lives

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Being a parent

Postnatal depression, single parenting, relationship breakdowns and divorce and losing your identity can be some of the difficulties faced by parents.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What about the Children? - Parenting Information Relationships Australia

This booklet covers issues that parents need to be aware of when considering their children's needs during the separation process.

Read more on Relationships Australia website

Continuing breastfeeding after separation and divorce | Australian Breastfeeding Association

This article is designed to give a brief overview of the law in relation to parenting arrangements of breastfed children across Australia. Readers should appreciate that all laws are subject to change and that each case is subject to circumstantial differences - both these factors mean that the following information should be regarded as a guide only and that only your lawyer can give legal advice relevant to you.

Read more on Australian Breastfeeding Association website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is when a child gets upset when separated from a parent or loved carer

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Men and Separation - Navigating the future

This book is for you if you are a man who is going through a separation or divorce, or you are someone who is supporting a man who is experiencing a separation.

Read more on beyondblue website

Kids' Health - Topics - When parents split up

Sometimes mum or dad, or both of them, decide that they would rather not live together any more

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo