Trying to share the responsibilities of parenting after a divorce is hard. Even those with the best of intentions often wind up in conflict with their ex. The more tension that develops, the harder the situation will be for your children.
A solid parenting plan is invaluable when establishing co-parenting obligations and boundaries. The better and more detailed your parenting plan, the easier it will be for you to avoid conflict with your ex and to keep things amicable for the kids. How do you create an effective parenting plan during a divorce?
Establish a general schedule and exceptions to the schedule
The first and most important aspect of a parenting plan is arguably determining how to split parental responsibilities like custodial time and decision-making authority.
Your parenting plan should break down how you split parenting time during the average week and during special occasions, like holidays, birthdays and school vacations. You should also include rules about the right way for either parent to approach making changes to the established schedule, such as a requirement to make requests in writing or to use a parenting app.
Addressing legal custody or decision-making is also key to cooperative parenting in the future. Deciding who should make certain decisions and which parent keeps crucial paperwork, like passports and birth certificates, is as important in splitting up your time.
Commits to household rules for the whole family
Your parenting plan shouldn’t just talk about where the children stay and when. It should also help the parents maintain consistency between households. Discussing rules and committing to the most important part of your parenting plan — from limiting how much time children spend on their phone to setting a curfew — will make it easier for your kids to know what you expect of them.
You may also want to include rules for you and your ex to follow, especially during times of conflict. Addressing likely future conflicts before they arise, such as discussing how to introduce your children to future romantic partners and how much access these individuals can have to the children, can stop these issues from turning into fights.
Working together often seems counterintuitive during a divorce, but it is often the best strategy for parents who need to develop a comprehensive parenting plan for their shared children.