When it comes to divorce, child custody issues are often the most complex. Anger and resentment caused by your marriage ending can get in the way of a healthy parenting relationship between you and your former spouse. Additionally, your children are bound to experience a wide range of emotions upon hearing the news.
That is why you must develop a comprehensive parenting plan with your ex. Parenting plans create a road map for you and your children going forward. They also play a significant role in conflict resolution should you and your ex-spouse disagree about some aspect of child-rearing. Here are a few items to include in your plan.
Most courts prefer awarding joint custody to divorcing parents, as it ensures both parties play a role in their child’s life. As a result, you must figure out a schedule that accommodates you, your ex, and your child. For example, you must determine who will pick your child up from school and on which days. You must also decide how much time your child will spend with each parent during the week. Work and school obligations should also factor into weekly scheduling.
Children require more assistance during summer, as they will spend the majority of the time home with either parent. You must also consider trips and vacations, as there may be a conflict if both you and your spouse want to go on an excursion with your child at the same time. For example, you can block out one week during the summer while your spouse can block out another to ensure you both spend quality time with your child.
Birthdays and holidays are another important consideration. It might make sense for your child to spend part of the special occasion with you, and spend the remainder of the time with your former spouse. You can also decide to alternate holidays if the distance is an issue. When making these decisions, keep the best interests of your child in mind.
It is impossible for your parenting plan to address every potential future conflict. However, just the act of creating it can help you and your former spouse develop a beneficial parenting relationship.