Jolita Sorokinaitė Jolanta Sondaitė


When couples separate, parents and children need to adjust to new life circumstances. Communication with ex-spouses can be filled with emotions and disagreements. Separation or divorce can present many challenges. Divorce is rarely a simple process or an easy emotional experience, especially when children and teenagers are involved. Parent-child communication after divorce, or how parents cooperate in raising children, is an important factor in the quality of parent-child relationships. Numerous studies show that co-parenting (a family model in which the child lives from 30% to 70% of their time with each parent) can have a positive effect on children’s and parents’ psychological adjustment after divorce and separation. The choice of co-parenting after divorce is growing rapidly in foreign countries. It can be expected that the choice of this care arrangement will grow in Lithuania as well. Therefore, it makes sense to further examine this phenomenon and analyse the experiences of parents choosing co-parenting after divorce.

The purpose of this study is to analyse the experiences of parents who apply co-parenting after divorce. The research aimed to answer the following research questions: 1) how do parents share parental responsibilities? 2) how do parents perceive their relationship with their children? 3) how do parents perceive their relationship and partnership in parenting? A qualitative method, thematic analysis, was chosen in this study. The selection of research participants was criterion-based, and the main participation criteria were: 1) the participant had to be divorced; 2) the participant must have at least one child to whom co-parenting is applied (where the child lives at least 30% of the time with each parent).

Five eligible participants participated in the study. Data were collected through a semistructured interview questionnaire developed by the researchers. The data obtained during the interviews were transcribed and encoded. The results of the study show that eight topics were identified: relations between parents; emotions experienced when communicating with an ex-spouse; perception of the ex-spouse’s relationship with the child; awareness of one’s connection with the child; feeling when the child(ren) is with the ex-spouse; the process of sharing parenting responsibilities; creating rules and implementing values; difficulties encountered and ways to solve them after choosing co-parenting.

The study revealed that parents tend to perceive their relationship as friendly. Emotional reactions to the ex-spouse do not interfere with their co-parenting relationship. Parents perceive their relationship with their child(ren) as strengthened after divorce. Parents trust their ex-spouse’s ability to raise their child(ren). Parents feel free when they are not looking after their child(ren) and they are able to enjoy their free time. Parents chose the coparenting model independently, and do not force each other to adopt the same parenting methods. The most common difficulties parents experience in co-parenting are: children‘s travels, clothing, exchange and acquisition of things, manipulation of children. The coparenting practiced by the participants of our study has the characteristics of cooperative co-parenting.