You may have noticed that there’s a lot of talk about cooperation and negotiation when you are going through a divorce. You hear it from lawyers, mediators, judges, teachers, family members, and well-meaning friends who have been there. It probably feels pretty contradictory right now, doesn’t it? You may be thinking “If we were able to cooperate, we wouldn’t be getting a divorce.” Your frustration is understandable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the fact that negotiating and cooperating with one another is the most effective way to get through your divorce. This is especially true when there are children involved.
Creating a Parenting Plan as Co-Parents
Parenting plans address custody and visitation arrangements for children of separation and divorce. But they can also do much more than merely set schedules for time with your children. Parenting plans are the blueprint for how you and your ex will parent, teach, support, and care for your kids as co-parents. This agreement is an essential component of your new lives apart. It’s an opportunity to put your children’s needs first, and to develop supportive, loving environments in which they are able to thrive.
- Your child’s unique traits – Develop a plan that caters to your child’s age, maturity, personality, and needs.
- Consistency – Children fare better when they know what to expect. Try to create a routine that they can depend on.
- Involvement – Your child needs both of you, and quality time is paramount. Sometimes, it’s necessary to make concessions to your ex’s schedule to support your child’s need for time with each of you.
- Flexibility – No parenting plan is the same, because no family is the same. Strive for an open-mind and be accepting of creative ways to co-parent.
- Forethought – Things will change. Children will grow. Keep this in mind when developing your PP. Whether you include an option of revisiting the plan when certain events occur, or you address future eventualities now, be sure to address it.
- Practicality – Be truthful about the time that each of you can realistically spend with your children. Don’t allow potential child support amounts to influence your schedules.
- Communication – This envelops your communication with your ex and your child’s communication with both of you.
- Decision-making – There will small day-to-day choices and big momentous decisions over the years. Decide now how to address them.
- Conflicts – Like decision-making, conflicts are fairly inevitable. Create a solution you can both turn to, such as mediation.
This is merely a starting point for creating a tailored PP that works for your new family arrangement. There is virtually no limit to the issues, concerns, and specifics that you can both negotiate in your plan. If you find that cooperation and negotiation are stalling, it can be helpful to turn to a professional for help, such as an experienced California family law attorney.
Sources: http://www.mccoyfatula.com/family-law/child-custody-support/, http://www.courts.ca.gov/15872.htm