When a couple chooses to divorce, their children are usually their top priority. Just because your marriage doesn’t work out does not mean that your relationship is over—it’s just evolving into a co-parenting relationship. While effective co-parenting can be challenging, it benefits your children and helps minimize the damage caused by divorce.
The first step is creating a parenting plan that works for everyone involved. Our team can help you with this and other issues in your divorce. Get started now by calling Coumanis & York at 251-990-3083.
What Your Plan Should Include
An effective parenting plan has to include several different elements, including:
- A comprehensive schedule. This schedule should account for every possibility. Outline where the child will spend time during the school year, on weekdays, on weekends, and holidays. Don’t forget to talk about what will happen if the child goes home sick from school or has an unexpected day off.
- Details on how day-to-day life will work in both households. Children thrive on routine and predictability. Both parents should be on the same page when it comes to establishing a daily routine. Make sure you account for extracurricular activities, play dates, and other activities that could disrupt your schedule.
- Dropoff and pickup information. Every set of parents handles this a little differently. For some, picking up and dropping off at the other parent’s house doesn’t cause any issues. For others, this is the perfect way to start a fight and make the situation stressful for the child. You may choose to do handoff in a public space or have pickup and drop-off times based on school or daycare arrival and pickup times.
- Information on how the parents will communicate. A lot of this depends on the coparents’ relationship. Some can maintain appropriate boundaries with the full phone, email, and text access. Others need to limit communication to set hours or use a co-parenting app that is accessible by the court.
- Decision-making procedures. What happens if a decision has to be made regarding medical care, school, or other important matters? Discuss this ahead of time to avoid fights when the time arises.
Put Your Kids First
Throughout this process, check in with yourself periodically to verify that you are putting your child’s interests first. If you realize you’ve put yourself first, don’t feel bad—simply adjust your viewpoint accordingly and move on. With both parents doing this, it’s easier to avoid any major issues.
Be Prepared for Disagreements
Even if your co-parenting relationship is currently strong and amiable, know that disagreements will occur. Make a plan for how you will handle disagreements to avoid shock and disappointment when they occur. Be especially patient with each other in the early days of co-parenting.
It is difficult to go from having full access to your child to needing to negotiate parenting time with someone else. If you need to, take breaks before replying to your co-parent. This may help you avoid miscommunications and unnecessary fights.
Remain Open to Adjustments
Your child’s needs will change over the course of their life. Keep that in mind as you revisit your co-parenting plan over the years. They may want to change the amount of time they spend with each parent, adjust their schedule to accommodate school activities and part-time jobs, and change pickup or drop-off times.
Changes may also be necessary if the parents’ work schedules change, or other obligations come up. Don’t be too rigid with your parenting plan. Realize that change is the only constant in life and be open to negotiating schedule adjustments with your co-parent. Giving them grace and flexibility when they need it may make it easier for you to get the grace you need when you ask for a schedule change.
Choose Coumanis & York for Your Family Law Needs
Pivoting from marriage to co-parenting as a divorced couple is difficult, but you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. At Coumanis & York, we help clients navigate child custody, child support, the division of assets, and other aspects of divorce. Let’s set aside some time to talk and figure out how you want to approach your divorce. You can reach us online or call us at 251-990-3083.