Navigating the often rough waters of divorce with children requires patience, understanding and knowledge. Getting help throughout the process is important, especially when it comes to the parenting plan.
Creating a parenting plan that works for your children is one key element you and your former spouse need to consider. Putting aside your differences to focus on the best interests of the children paves the way for a smoother transition. Discover how a single document can help children feel less strife in their new normal.
Set reasonable expectations
The parenting plan should spell out how you and your spouse plan to handle your children post-decree. It typically addresses things such as:
- Agreements on the children’s education
- Health-related issues
- The process for modifications and changes
- A schedule for timesharing between the parents
The last item may trip some spouses up during a divorce. The schedule sets the groundwork for how often each parent has the children. It addresses how the children will go back and forth between the parents’ homes during the school year, the summer and all holidays.
You do not want to over-commit when crafting the schedule. For instance, agreeing to have the children with you half of the time when work commitments overlap is a recipe for disaster. You may need to make frequent changes, which can create an unstable environment for the children. Exercise reasonable judgment and take a realistic approach when creating a timesharing schedule.
If a change in schedule is necessary for one reason or another, communicate the deviation first to the other parent and then to the children. When children see parents getting along and talking openly, it helps them understand that the divorce was not about them. It reduces their stress as they do not witness fighting and feel pressure to choose sides. When you and the other parent focus on making your children as comfortable after divorce as possible, you wind up with less strife.
Putting the needs of your children first can help you and your former spouse draft a more effective parenting plan. Doing this may keep your children and you less stressed post-divorce.