Home / Co-Parenting

The Role of Mediation in Co-parenting After a Toxic Relationship: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating the aftermath of a toxic relationship can be challenging, particularly when children are involved. In the quest to provide a stable, loving environment for your children, co-parenting becomes a necessary but sometimes difficult journey. One of the most effective strategies for easing this process is through mediation. This comprehensive guide will explore the role of mediation in co-parenting after a toxic relationship.

Understanding Mediation in the Context of Co-parenting

Mediation is a form of conflict resolution that involves a neutral third party – the mediator. The mediator’s role is to facilitate open communication between the two parties, helping them find common ground and make decisions that benefit all parties involved, especially the children. This process is particularly helpful in the context of co-parenting after a toxic relationship, where communication may be strained, and emotions might run high.

The Importance of Mediation in Co-parenting

Why is mediation so essential in co-parenting after a toxic relationship? Let’s look at some of the key reasons:

  1. Improved Communication: Mediation provides a neutral platform for both parties to voice their concerns and needs. The mediator helps structure these conversations, promoting respectful and effective communication, which is crucial for successful co-parenting.
  2. Child-Centred Decisions: The mediator ensures that the child’s best interest is always at the forefront of all discussions and decisions. This approach helps parents shift from their conflict to focusing on their child’s needs.
  3. Conflict Resolution: Mediation aids in resolving disputes about child-rearing decisions, visitation schedules, and other contentious issues. It helps create a more peaceful environment for the children.
  4. Long-term Co-parenting Plan: Mediation can help create a comprehensive co-parenting plan. This plan includes day-to-day responsibilities, special occasions, dispute resolution processes, and any other elements that are necessary for smooth co-parenting.

How Mediation Works in Co-parenting

Mediation sessions usually involve both parents and the mediator. The process may vary depending on individual circumstances, but a typical mediation process involves the following steps:

The mediator explains the process, rules, and goals of mediation.

Sharing Perspectives:
Each parent has a chance to share their views and concerns without interruption.

The mediator facilitates a discussion, helping both parents to understand each other’s perspectives and to identify and prioritize issues that need to be resolved.

Both parents, with the help of the mediator, work on finding common ground and compromises on the issues identified.

Once an agreement is reached, the mediator drafts it. After reviewing and signing, this document can serve as a roadmap for co-parenting.

The Benefits of Mediation in Co-parenting After a Toxic Relationship

The benefits of mediation in co-parenting after a toxic relationship are numerous:

Reduced Conflict:
By providing a neutral space for negotiation, mediation can significantly reduce conflict and tension between co-parents.

Control Over Decisions:
Unlike court decisions, mediation allows parents to have control over decisions affecting their children’s lives.

Improved Relationships:
Mediation can help improve the overall co-parenting relationship by establishing effective communication patterns and reducing hostility.

Children’s Well-being:
By reducing conflict and promoting cooperative co-parenting, mediation helps to foster a more stable and positive environment for the children.

Choosing a Mediator:
Choosing the right mediator is crucial. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:

Experience and Training:
Look for a mediator who has specialized training and experience in divorce and family mediation.

The mediator should be neutral and unbiased. They should not take sides but focus on facilitating productive discussions between both parents.

Approach and Philosophy:
Understand the mediator’s approach and philosophy towards co-parenting and mediation. Make sure it aligns with your values and expectations.

Understand their fee structure. Some mediators charge a flat fee, while others charge by the hour.

What to Expect in Co-parenting Mediation:
Coming into mediation, it’s important to be prepared for the process. Here’s what you can expect:

Before you start, gather all necessary documents and think through what you want for your children. It’s also helpful to prepare yourself emotionally.

Multiple Sessions:
Mediation usually takes place over several sessions. Each session typically lasts about one to two hours

Cooperation and Compromise:
Mediation is about finding common ground, which often involves compromises. Be ready to listen, understand, and work cooperatively with your ex-partner for the best interests of your children.

What’s said in mediation stays in mediation. It’s a safe space to express your concerns, needs, and expectations.

Legal Advice:
Mediators do not provide legal advice. It’s recommended to consult with a lawyer during the mediation process to understand the legal implications of your decisions.

After Mediation: Co-parenting Successfully
Once the mediation process is complete, and a co-parenting plan is in place, the focus shifts to implementing the plan effectively. Here are a few tips to co-parent successfully after a toxic relationship:

Respect the Co-parenting Plan:
The co-parenting plan is there for a reason. Both parents should respect the plan and adhere to it.

Communicate Effectively:
Remember the communication skills learned during mediation. Use these skills to communicate effectively with your ex-partner.

Stay Child-Focused:
Always prioritize your children’s needs and well-being. Any decision or action should be based on what’s best for them.

Seek Support:
Co-parenting after a toxic relationship can be challenging. Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, support groups, or a professional counsellor.

Practice Self-Care:
Taking care of your mental and physical health is crucial. It allows you to be the best parent you can be for your children.

In conclusion, mediation plays a vital role in co-parenting after a toxic relationship. It helps establish a groundwork for effective communication, reduces conflict, and ensures the best interests of the child are prioritized. For more insights into co-parenting after a toxic relationship, check out our previous article on “Co-parenting after a toxic relationship: Strategies and Tips“.

By understanding and utilizing mediation, you can transition from a toxic relationship to a successful co-parenting partnership, creating a stable, loving environment for your children to thrive in. Remember, it’s not the separation, but the conflict that can harm children. Through effective mediation, that conflict can be managed and minimized, ensuring the well-being of your children.


Co-Parenting After a Toxic Relationship: A Guide to Positive Parenting

Co-parenting after a toxic relationship can be a mountainous task filled with emotional turmoil and practical challenges. However, for parents committed to the well-being of their children, it’s a necessary path. This comprehensive guide seeks to help parents navigate this difficult journey, offering strategies for maintaining effective communication, setting boundaries, and prioritizing the child’s emotional health.

Understanding the Challenge

Embarking on the journey of co-parenting after a toxic relationship often feels like an uphill battle. It’s not merely about sharing responsibilities but handling lingering negative emotions, unresolved conflicts, and potential communication breakdowns. It’s a delicate balancing act, requiring you to detach from the painful past while working together for your child’s future.

The root of the challenge lies in the nature of toxic relationships. They leave emotional scars, foster mistrust, and create an environment of negativity. Carrying these burdens into your co-parenting arrangement can complicate matters, making it harder to focus on your child’s needs. But remember, your goal is to foster a healthy environment for your child to grow, and this goal must overshadow the complications of the past.

Setting Boundaries

One crucial step in co-parenting after a toxic relationship is setting clear, healthy boundaries. These boundaries aren’t about keeping score or limiting the other parent’s involvement, but rather about protecting your personal space and emotional health. They also play a critical role in preventing old issues from creeping into your new parenting arrangement.

Setting boundaries may entail deciding on specific pick-up and drop-off times, limiting communication to necessary topics related to your child, or delineating what topics are off-limits for discussion. The key is to be clear about your needs without infringing on the other parent’s rights or the child’s needs. When both parents understand and respect these boundaries, the co-parenting arrangement can function more smoothly.

Effective Communication

Communication, the cornerstone of any relationship, becomes even more critical when co-parenting after a toxic relationship. It may be challenging to maintain open lines of communication when there is a history of pain and conflict, but for the sake of your child, it’s essential.

Try to use neutral language to avoid triggering old arguments. Focus on your child’s needs during discussions and keep personal issues separate. It’s also crucial to be clear, concise, and consistent in your communication. This approach can help reduce misunderstandings and keep the focus on the well-being of your child.

In some situations, direct communication might be too fraught with tension. In these cases, consider using technology to help. Numerous co-parenting apps offer platforms for messaging, scheduling, and sharing essential child-related information. This can help maintain necessary communication while providing a record of correspondence.

In particularly challenging situations, seeking the help of a professional mediator might be beneficial. They can facilitate conversations, help resolve disputes, and keep the focus on the child’s best interests.

Prioritizing the Child’s Emotional Health

The emotional fallout of a toxic relationship can cast a long shadow, and children often bear the brunt of it. Feelings of confusion, sadness, or anxiety are common in children after their parents separate. As co-parents, it’s your responsibility to help them navigate these challenging emotions.

Regularly engage in open, honest conversations with your child, ensuring they feel seen, heard, and understood. Encourage them to express their feelings and reassure them that it’s okay to feel upset or confused. Keep them informed about changes in a way they can understand, and reassure them of your love and support.

It’s crucial to avoid badmouthing the other parent in front of your child

as this can increase their stress and negatively impact their relationship with both parents. Remember, your child’s relationship with their other parent is independent of your relationship with your ex-partner. Encouraging a healthy bond with both parents can play a crucial role in your child’s emotional well-being.

In some cases, seeking professional help can be beneficial. Child psychologists or counsellors can provide a safe space for your child to express their feelings and learn coping strategies. Additionally, they can offer valuable guidance to parents about managing their child’s emotional needs during this challenging time.

Creating a Co-Parenting Plan

A well-thought-out co-parenting plan can be an invaluable tool in navigating post-separation parenting. This plan should outline each parent’s responsibilities, define custody schedules, and establish protocols for decision-making and resolving disputes. The goal is to create a structured environment that reduces uncertainties and potential areas of conflict.

When drafting a co-parenting plan, it’s crucial to consider the child’s needs and preferences. This includes their school schedule, extracurricular activities, social events, and even downtime. It’s also important to include provisions for holidays, vacations, and special occasions, which can often be points of contention.

A flexible yet detailed co-parenting plan can help both parents understand their roles and responsibilities. It provides a roadmap that helps navigate co-parenting after a toxic relationship, with the child’s well-being at its centre. Remember, the plan may need to be revised as circumstances change and your child grows. Flexibility is key to successful co-parenting.

Seeking Support

Co-parenting after a toxic relationship can be a demanding and isolating experience. It’s important to remember that seeking support during this challenging time is not a sign of weakness, but rather an act of strength. This support could come in various forms – a support group for single parents, a counselor, or trusted friends and family.

Support groups can offer a sense of community and understanding that friends or family may not be able to provide. They can also offer practical advice and resources to help you navigate co-parenting challenges.

Professional help in the form of counselling or therapy can also be beneficial. Professionals can provide strategies for managing stress, improving communication, and dealing with unresolved feelings related to the toxic relationship.


Co-parenting after a toxic relationship is undoubtedly challenging, but with patience, resilience, and a child-focused approach, it can be a successful endeavour. By setting boundaries, communicating effectively, prioritizing your child’s emotional health, and seeking support, you can navigate this journey in a healthy and positive way.

Remember, every family is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay patient, flexible, and open-minded in your co-parenting approach. After all, your unwavering commitment and love for your child are the most significant driving forces behind successful co-parenting. Here’s to fostering positivity and growth, even in the wake of difficult circumstances.

Blended Family

We moved in together!

It makes me very, very happy to write this post.

For both of us, starting a new relationship after parental separation was a big deal. There’s so much more to play for when children are involved.

Just over a year after we first introduced the children to each other and 18 months after we got together, we felt like it was time for us all to be under one roof.

The children all get on so beautifully and though so much has changed in the last 12 months, our blended family unit feels stronger than ever.

Everything clicked into place last week for me when Evie told me she wanted Rosie and the girls to move in before Christmas and that she, ‘wouldn’t let me forget it’.

It made me chuckle and it made me feel very happy indeed.

So here’s to the next step of our adventure.

Finally, my house truly feels like our home.


Featured: 4 Tips for Coping With Separation

We love a business called Amicable and the work they’re doing for those going through separation. They describe their mission as ‘to provide a better, kinder, affordable way to divorce, separate and co-parent’; something that would have benefitted me so much when Evie’s mum and I split.

We’ve been working them for a while and I was even featured as guests on Episode #25 of their, ‘The Divorce Podcast‘.

Recently, I wrote a blog post for them entitled, ‘Four Tips for Coping with Separation’.

You can see an exerpt below, or read the full article here.

“It’s over.”

These two words, when used in the context of a relationship, can have a deep, lasting and upsetting impact on both the person receiving them, as well as the person delivering them. The end of a relationship marks the end of your journey with that other person and, instigator or not, dealing with the fallout and moving on…is tough. Let’s face it, whether you’ve spent weeks, months or years together, unpicking the dying weeds of romantic entanglement is tough, particularly when there stood a blossoming relationship in their place.

The bad news? Separation never gets easier, whether you’re the ‘leaver’ or the ‘left’.

The good news? There are things you can do that’ll help you cope with separation in order to find a path forward towards a life that not only do you want, but you deserve.

1. Embrace your emotions

There are few times in our lives that are more stressful than the dissolution of a relationship. It doesn’t really matter whether you were the ‘leaver’ or the ‘left’, both sides are likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions at some point or another.

Whilst it might feel like you’re trapped in a “glass case of emotion”, to quote the fictional philosophical genius that is, of course, Ron Burgundy, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings instead of hiding from them. You might be feeling bitterly angry, desperately upset, horrendously hurt or furiously focused on a new and unknown future; let me tell you this: All of those feelings are normal and part of the process, so don’t suppress your feelings.

I’ll say that again, louder: Don’t suppress your feelings.

Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with a strong network of supportive people. It’s vital that you feel comfortable enough to let them know how you’re feeling. The good, the bad and the ugly.

A true friend will feel comfortable just…listening. Remember though, if they’re your friend they may feel the urge to try to fix it for you and present ideas and suggestions as to how you can move forward. You might not be ready to heed that advice just yet and that’s absolutely fine. Just gently let them know you appreciate them, but you need them to just hear you right now. If they’ve been through anything similar before, they’ll understand.

In my experience, there are few situations in life lonelier than the immediate aftermath of separation. Nobody else understands the gravity of what you’re going through because they don’t have the same emotional investment in the relationship as you do. Expect there to feel like there’s suddenly a huge void in the place of your relationship – it’s perfectly natural. Let’s face it, after sharing such a significant part of your life with somebody, there’s you’ll need to re-learn how to be ‘single’ and how to be alone.

It’s part of the process. Embrace those feelings by acknowledging that they’re to be expected and you’ll find it infinitely easier to move on.

Like what you’ve read so far?/ Full article continues here


Two years of coparenting

The first time I came home with Evie after the separation, I was totally and utterly lost.  I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold, how on earth I was going to deal with it or whether it was even worth fighting for.

I just put on a brave face and tried my best, one day at a time (I think the strained smile in this photo is clear when you know where I was at emotionally at the time). 

Evie was just two and a half years old, she looks so young here. I was absolutely stricken with guilt at the thought of her having to deal with our separation at such an early age.

We all go through hard times in life; it’s part of the journey. 

Remember this: Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. 

Eckart Tolle, author of this game-changer of a book called, ‘The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment’, writes, “As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love – even the most simple action” 

When bad things happen, people are often bitter or resentful towards the person(s) or that caused it. When the future suddenly seems uncertain, we tend to believe the striving for more will lead to happiness. 

The truth is that you can only control this very moment. What you do RIGHT THIS SECOND is the only thing that really matters – everything else is a distraction.

You can AIM for those bigger things, but you must work towards them day-by-day by knocking off smaller objectives and goals. 

You can LEARN from past events, but you mustn’t let them consume you because they’ve already happened and nothing will change it. 

This strained smile was the face of a parent brimming with uncertainty, until I learned to let go of it all and focus on the only thing that really mattered: Making my daughter smile, one day at a time, until I can’t do it anymore.

What a difficult few years it’s been, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because it made me who I am today: A proud father to the most beautiful little girl I could have ever imagined. 

Dan holding a copy of The Sunday Telegraph

Featured in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine!

On Sunday 21st February, we were asked to contribute in a feature for the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine called, ‘Being brought up by a single dad was nothing like people expect

It’s a fantastic piece in which Zeena Moolla explores what it was like to be raised by just her father, along with some of the stereotypes she faced as a consequence.

We’re all so used to the idea that women just are the nurturing parents and the carers of the house, despite the fact that this stereotype is archaic and outdated.

Zeena found people couldn’t quite get their head around the fact that she was being raised as a man and the limitations they thought this would present to her life…

“…We lost count of the number of people who inferred that as a man, he couldn’t be as caring as a woman. ‘Do they not miss having a mother around?’ was the impertinent question often posed to him. It drove me inwardly mad. It felt as if my dad was being undermined.”

Although family dynamics are definitely changing, I was asked to comment on how I feel men are perceived when they take a nurturing approach to parenting…

“Blogger Dan Betts, founder of, says that after he and his partner separated in 2019, and started sharing custody of their daughter Evie, now four, he was struck by the reactions of strangers. ‘People are often very surprised by how dedicated I am to Evie,’ he says. ‘It tells me there’s a very clear perception that men can’t be “maternal”. [But] as men, we’re just as capable of being nurturing parents.’

His time as a single father has, he says, taught him that there is no such thing as ‘mum jobs’ and ‘dad jobs’. ‘Being responsible for everything to do with Evie’s care, 100 per cent of the time she’s with me, has helped me to appreciate the difficult balancing act many mums face every day. And it’s not about being perceived as “good for a dad”; it’s about stepping up and being there for your child, because that’s what a parent should do.’”

I was so proud to be able to contribute to such a progressive article; it’s so important to challenge the way we view fathers in the UK.

Society is changing and the stereotypical, ‘Dad who sits on the sofa with a beer and watches sports, whilst the mum does everything else’ just doesn’t fly anymore.

At least, not in my book.

Just as in the workplace, we’re challenging long-standing and historic unfairness when it comes to the gender gap, we need to be confident to do the same at home too.

We were so grateful to be involved in this article and, perhaps one day, Evie will read it and know that I did everything I could to be the best father I could be.


A year of the Breaking Dad on Instagram

On the 27th January 2020, I was stuck in traffic on the way to work when the name hit me.

For those of you that have followed for a while, you’ll know that the run-up towards Christmas 2019 was one of the hardest few months of my life.

I’d sunk deep into depression and struggled with being a ‘co-parent’.

The thought of the first Christmas not waking up to see my little girl’s face hit me in September and got worse…and worse.

Unexpectedly, Christmas came and surprisingly, it was one of the best Christmases I’d had in years.

I was no longer in a relationship that wasn’t working, which meant I was in total control of the time I had with Evie.

Sure, it was less time than I wanted, but it was OUR time.

I realised focusing on what WASN’T was never going to help me.

OK, It may not have been the ‘happily ever after’ family life I’d hoped for, but for the first time, I realised the power was squarely in my hands to own every second I had my with daughter.

No more moping. I’d been slipping down a self-destructive path for a while; now was the time to face into it.

I decided 2020 would be different.

“The Breaking Dad”

Breaking, but never broken.

I thought it summed the journey to that point perfectly (And it conveniently rhymed with the name of one of my favourite TV shows).

This Instagram page is a journal. It holds me accountable to my daughter and my mission of raising a strong daughter. It forces me to be creative and focus on enriching her life.

12 months and just short of 12k followers later, I’ve been blown away by the sheer volume of fantastic people who use this platform – Kind and supportive people who embrace their roles as loving parents and inspire me to be the best that I can be.

What started out as a journey a single dad’s journey with his daughter evolved organically into finding love again with the most wonderful human, @always_rosie_ and her beautiful children.

2020 will forever be known in history as the year that COVID-19 struck. But to me, despite the hardshps we’ve ALL faced in the last 12 months, I’ll always remember it as the year I found myself as a father.

Thanks for following our journey.

Dan & Evie

Evie, Rosie and Tilly baking cakes toogether
Co-Parenting, Parenthood

A blended family: All the ingredients

I remember the feeling of sheer dread the first day I introduced Rosie to Evie. The idea of a blended family seemed scary.

Up until that day, I’d been living two lives since separation: Dad and Dan.

In my days with Evie, I’d be focused solely on her from the moment I’d collect her to the moment she went home.

In my days without Evie, I’d just wish the days away until I saw her again.

This phase of my life was a real journey of self-discovery; I’d always been terrible at being alone and then, here I was, alone…a lot.

I found mindfulness and yoga and really focus on finding myself and who I am. Lots of the answers were covered in this post, ‘10 things you should start doing for a happier life‘.

Then I met Rosie.

Things were great from the off and we spent (and still do spend) most of our time together and just enjoying each other’s company.

All-of-a-sudden my life outside of Evie mattered a little more.

You can read more about how Rosie and I met here.

We waited a while until introducing Evie to Rosie. I was so worried because it was uncharted territory. I’d never introduced a child to a new partner before so how would I know I was doing the right thing!?

I spoke to Evie’s mum first and made sure we took things VERY slowly – completely at Evie’s pace.

They met, hit it off beautifully our two little world’s collided.

My introduction to Rosie’s beautiful daughters came soon after and I’ve been blown away by how quickly they’ve become little best buddies.

It’s just so effortless.

We had such a lovely day making cakes together yesterday and life, it seems, is moving in the right direction.

I don’t know when it’ll be the right time to use the ‘blended family’ label, but it certainly feels like it’s not far off.

And you know what? That feels good.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, we made these Butterfly cakes.

About Us

Thanks so much for taking the time to read our posts. If you’d like to know a little bit more about us, just click the button below.

Find out more
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound