Divorce is one of the most challenging experiences that many will face. It involves hundreds of decisions that range from where to live after the divorce to small but essential things like keeping a favorite coffee mug. Few choices, however, will be more critical, far-reaching and stressful than crafting a parenting plan that works for the children as well as the parents.
The needs of each family are different, and ideally, the parents can sit down and work out a fair and equitable coparenting agreement with shared decision-making on matters related to the children as well as both parents actively involved in the lives of the children. While the idea is to ensure what is best for the children, successful plans often also must consider the needs and schedule of each parent as well as employing some flexibility for when circumstances demand it.
Key matters to resolve
Parents should discuss realistic expectations and availability when determining the right plan for addressing the children’s basic needs:
- Custody: Typically, the courts lean towards joint custody because it is thought to be in the best interests of the children to have both parents active in the children’s lives. However, one parent may be the custodial parent with the home where the children live most of the time during the school year.
- Collaborative partnership: Active coparenting will likely require the parents to have a collaborative partnership as the children move back and forth between homes every few days or even daily if there are pick-ups and drop-offs for school or after-school activities.
- Sharing information: This means providing both parents’ contact information to schools and other organizations that the children are involved with. It also includes doctors’ visits and additional information relevant to the well-being of the children.
- Holidays and vacations: The holidays are an important time for family, and parents often try to minimize changes in traditions. However, creating new ones is often vital for the family to move forward. Parents should discuss how they will handle travel with children, when and whether approval is necessary.
- Special days: It is wise to map out how birthdays, milestones, family events, and special events will be handled.
Every divorce is unique
The needs of each family are different, so it always wise for couples who filed for divorce to discuss their plans with an experienced family law attorney. These skilled legal professionals can draft a plan that works for the family or help them update the plan as the needs of the family change.