One of the most complicated and difficult aspects of working through a divorce is completing a satisfactory parenting plan. The divorce may already be hard on the children and you will undoubtedly want to make the custody arrangement be as seamless as it can be. Working with your attorney will be crucial during the planning of your custody agreement to make sure everything is compliant, but there are things you can also keep in mind.
Always think of the children – It is easy when looking at schedules and items on a calendar to see how it might work for you. However, parenting time is not about the parents, it is about the children. You will want to make sure that the time you spend with your children continues to enhance the bond you already have and that you are there to address their needs.
A time to work together – You may not be getting along very well with your soon to be ex-spouse, but when it comes to the kids, it is best to put any differences aside. Even if you are best friends during the divorce process, figuring out a parenting plan can be a struggle. It will be easier to work through if you keep a focus on working together and not become adversarial.
Forget about perfection – Between all the activities the children may be involved in, work schedules, hobbies, sporting events et cetera, everybody in the family is usually busy. There will be times when you will have to be with the kids instead of going to a concert or attending a social function. This again will be a time to think of the children first.
Keep comments to yourself – Frustration over the divorce and the parenting schedule can elicit strong emotions at times. It is not a good idea to voice this anger out loud within earshot of the kids. Worse yet, using your kids as a sounding board to vent how mad you might be at the other parent. Not only do the kids not want to hear this from a parent, you may be causing additional stress on them.
Compromise and flexibility – Even after a parenting plan is in place, it may not be logical to keep the same rotating schedule the whole year through. The end of the year holidays are a good example of that. If it is easier for your former spouse to take the kids a day or two earlier than usual, show that you are okay with that and see if you can add a couple days to your time in the future.
What do the kids want? – If the children are old enough and seem comfortable enough with the situation, you may ask for their input. This may not always work since you may have a fear of them saying something you do not want to hear. However, they may tell you something about what they want that you may not have originally been thinking about.
Finalizing a parenting plan that is workable for both you and your ex can be very beneficial. When you both have input and an equal say on how the plan is determined, it can make executing the plan much easier.