The process of writing a parenting plan can be painful, particularly if the end of the marriage is contentious or sudden. However, when done well, a parenting plan can set clear boundaries, help children move through the divorce process with minimal confusion, and set the foundation for a productive co-parenting relationship.
- Specifically address the school year, summer vacation, holidays, and school breaks.
A child’s needs vary throughout the year. Take a close look at both parents’ work schedules and other obligations to decide how time can be split fairly throughout the year. Avoid a rigid time split that requires one parent to take excessive time off work or significantly change their work schedule; this is a time to work together for the best interests of your child.
- Keep the child’s routines in mind.
Ideally, a child should be able to maintain the same schedule and routines after a divorce. Whether they have extracurricular activities, a standing weekly sleepover with friends, or a rigorous tutoring schedule, don’t expect a child to give up an activity because of divorce. A steady routine can help your child navigate the emotional challenges of this time.
- Don’t use this as an opportunity to retaliate against the other parent.
It’s easy to let your emotions get the better of you, especially if you feel like you’re losing time with your child. Your brain may go into fight-or-flight mode. Resist the urge to lash out or get defensive. Whenever your adrenaline levels spike, take a few minutes to step off to the side and calm down. This isn’t a time to get revenge against the other parent for their failings during the marriage, infidelity, or decision to file divorce. It is a time to create the best life possible for your child.
- Get experts involved!
Don’t be afraid to get experts involved if necessary. A mediator can help you hash out complicated custody issues or find a compromise that keeps everyone happy. If you’re unsure what best fits your child’s needs, consider consulting with a child psychologist or therapist.
- Maximize time with each parent.
While dividing up time, it’s important to find a balance. If one parent has historically been the primary caregiver, a sudden and abrupt switch to 50/50 custody could distress the child. However, both parents have the right to time with their child, and the child has the right to a meaningful and stable relationship with both parents. Keeping in mind time spent in daycare, school, and other activities, set up a schedule that allows both parents to have quality time with their child.
- Don’t be too rigid.
The only constant in life is change, and that’s especially true in parenting. Your child’s needs will evolve throughout the years, as will each parent’s obligations, career goals, and schedule. Stay flexible and open to change while writing a parenting plan. If you and your ex-partner can work together and make changes to accommodate special situations, your child will certainly benefit.
With the right legal team, you can come up with a divorce agreement that benefits everyone involved and gives you a fresh start. Get started now and reach out to Von Dohlen Law Firm to set up a consultation.