Throughout the divorce process, there can be disagreements, miscommunication, and other issues that lead to conflict, but it’s important for both parents involved to come together to develop a parenting plan that meets their children’s needs. The following are some basics for parents to think about when developing their ideal co-parenting plan.
1. The Child’s Best Interests
The very first item for parents to consider when developing a co-parenting plan is the child’s best interests. Children have needs that parenting schedules must accommodate. Parents can help meet these needs by taking into account both a child’s emotional and physical needs.
While a child’s physical needs include sufficient food, shelter, clothing, exercise, rest, healthcare, and mobility, emotional needs could include maintaining a healthy state of mind, helping a child handle stress, and maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents.
If the child is older and capable of making his or her own independent decisions, his or her opinion may also come into play when developing a parenting plan. Children who are teenagers may have more specific wishes that could directly affect aspects of a parenting plan, including the distance between parents’ homes and parents’ work schedules.
2. Communication Plans
Another aspect of a strong co-parenting plan is healthy and effective communication between both parents and their children. Parents should determine how to facilitate communication between everyone involved, whether it consists of a regular phone call, texting or emailing at specific times, or other methods and frequency of communication. If necessary, parents can use co-parenting apps to help them organize and schedule communications.
3. The Parenting Schedule
Parents will need to decide on a parenting schedule that works for everyone, detailing daily routines and the amount of time children will spend with each parent. Parents need to develop a schedule that accounts for each person’s needs, and they should be sure to stick to the schedule once it is developed.
It’s also important for co-parents to maintain a level of flexibility when it comes to scheduling. For instance, as a child grows, his or her needs will change over time. This could affect aspects of the schedule such as extracurricular activities and visitation. Everyone should be on the same page as changes develop to maintain predictability and organization.
4. The Child’s Finances
Another key aspect of a parenting plan is the child’s financial wellbeing. Regardless of decisions around custody and parenting responsibilities, both parents are responsible for a child’s financial position. To help meet the child’s financial needs, parents should have a clear understanding of who will pay for what based on child support payments and other expenses.
5. Maintaining a Healthy Partnership
The goals co-parents set can be achieved through a healthy partnership. Even if parents need to work with a mediator or parenting coordinator to communicate between them, they should work together to ensure children have a good relationship with both parents.
Taking each of these aspects into consideration can help develop a beneficial co-parenting plan around a child-custody arrangement and other factors. Ultimately, this will help both parents and children adapt to the new changes.