When you and your spouse are going through a divorce, creating a good parenting plan will take time, thought and teamwork.
You and your soon-to-be ex do not have to be friends, but you should communicate well enough that you include the parenting plan elements that are most important in terms of benefitting your children. Here are six of those elements.
A clear schedule
Create a well-defined schedule not only for visitation dates but also for vacation time, holidays, appointments and extracurricular activities. Post copies of the schedule in both homes so everyone knows what to expect and where each child should be on what date at what time.
Responsibility for decisions
If you and the other parent have joint custody, figure out who will be responsible for making important decisions for the children.
You will also need to decide who will be responsible for parenting tasks. Examples include who helps with homework, who stays home from work with a sick child, who takes the children to dental appointments or to soccer practice. You should also make decisions about parental finances, such as who pays for what.
Who will take the children to the home of the other parent and who picks them up again? Who will take the children to school or to an extracurricular event?
What is the best way for you and the other parent to communicate? Phone? Email? Keep in mind that your children will note how well you communicate; this is an opportunity for you to set a good example for the kids.
Life after divorce is not easy for anyone and disagreements will arise from time to time. In your parenting plan, construct guidelines for addressing agreements and, to the extent possible, for solving them. Remember that the top priority for you and the other parent is the well-being of your children. Learn to compromise, to be civil to one another and to work as a team to develop the best parenting plan possible.