Once you’ve started the divorce process, everything in your life begins to be colored by the “D-word.” If you have children, they can get lost in the battle for things and ego during a divorce. So, even though your divorce may take many months to finalize, establishing a parenting plan early on could help insulate your children from the chaos. Couples can get wrapped up in winning the day, which can leave children as collateral damage once the dust settles.
5 Tips for Creating a Successful Parenting Plan
After separation, the life your children once knew is gone. It would be to their benefit to start a new routine as soon as possible. Creating a parenting plan worth the name doesn’t have to be a long or complicated exercise. Children crave stability and normalcy. The key to a good plan starts at early adoption and thoughtful planning.
We provide five tips to help you get started formulating your parenting plan.
- Don’t Wait Until After the Divorce is Finalized: Your kids will struggle with the changes. Knowing their parents are breaking up will impact each child differently, but having a routine they can trust to exist in the chaos will help make the transition to the new reality easier. Even if you and your spouse are not happy with one another, you need to present a united front regarding the parenting plan and its execution.
- Respecting the Parental Relationship is Most Important: You may deeply dislike your spouse. They may have ruined their relationship with you beyond the point of repair. If their behavior isn’t a threat to your shared children, you must ignore your feelings and respect the parental relationship. Children are best served when they are allowed to have a healthy relationship with both parents.
- Create a Safe Space for Parenting Concerns: No one wants to feel judged or maligned. If you have legitimate questions about your spouse’s parenting choices, you need to stipulate concerns or rules into the parenting plan. This is not a place to be petty or mean. Disagreeing with how your spouse parents is not the same as having concerns about their decision-making ability and responsibility as a parent. Raising issues now is better than waiting until your custody agreement. It will be difficult to change course once a parenting plan has been established.
- Listen to Your Children: If your children are young, then trusting their parents' decisions is expected and necessary. Older children may eventually respect their parents' will, but they may also have an opinion they should be allowed to share. Teens may be worried about a timesharing arrangement that removes them from the family home during the school week. Maybe one parent has a very busy work life, leaving older children at home alone during the week to fend for themselves. It may be difficult to agree to a parenting split that’s less than 50/50. You want to listen to your children and what will make their lives as close to normal and happy as possible.
- The Time Split Isn’t a Parenting Vacation: When your children aren’t with you, they are still your children. You have the legal right and responsibility for your children’s well-being, educational concerns, and medical oversight. You can visit with them and see them regularly with a shared legal and physical custody arrangement. You can your spouse should work together as much as possible to be part of your children’s lives even when they are not in your physical home. If the timesharing split is less than 50%, it’s not an invitation for being less of a parent. Your children will not fare well in this environment.
Family Lawyers Who Care
The important thing to remember is that your children are your most valuable marital asset. They are to be shared equitably and lovingly, even when you no longer care for one another. Divorce is difficult for children and creating a hostile parenting arrangement with your future ex-spouse will only make it harder and worse for everyone. At Creative Family Solutions, we can help you and your spouse work together to create a parenting plan that serves the best interest of all parties. Call us today at (916) 675-3866 to schedule a consultation.