Divorce is undoubtedly difficult, especially when children are involved. Whether your divorce takes a few months or years to settle, the process is complex, and it takes a toll on everyone involved.
It is critical to remember that children process divorce differently than adults do, so it is important to pay attention to how they are doing and adapting to the changes that come with divorce.
Many parents choose to co-parent after divorce for the sake of the children. The purpose of co-parenting is for both parents to continue participating in their children’s lives as much as possible and to try to mitigate the damage that divorce can cause.
While divorce will change the family dynamic, parents can create a new one if they are willing to cooperate and collaborate. One way of doing this is to put together a detailed parenting plan if the court has not asked you to do so already.
A parenting plan can structure how parents will move forward with raising their kids after divorce. Parenting plans should include:
- Specific schedules stating when each parent will see the children and where
- Whether the exchanges will take place in a specific location
- Who will pay for anything that child support does not cover
- What will happen in the event of an emergency if the parent cannot show up at their normal time to pick up the children
- Information about the children’s health and education, so both parents are able to participate in the decision-making process related to education and health
- Who, if anyone, will have permission to engage with the children regularly, such as grandparents, cousins, neighbors, close friends, or others
- What happens if the parents do not agree on something and are stuck. In many cases, parents include a mediation clause in the parenting plan, allowing them to seek a neutral third party to help them reach an agreement when they cannot do so alone
- Anything else that is important for the parents to remember or know
Having a comprehensive parenting plan can take a lot of work to create. However, once the plan is in place, you will have (hopefully!) covered every scenario that could possibly come up.
The idea is to minimize conflict between the parents so they can co-parent peacefully and spend quality time with their children while they play an active role in their children’s upbringing.
Co-parenting can be challenging at times, so having a proper and structured plan is ideal for parents who want to reduce conflict between them and be prepared for as many situations as possible. It is not always possible to foresee everything that could happen. However, it is possible to have a plan that essentially becomes a method for how the parents will move forward with their children after the divorce.