There are many decisions to make when getting divorced. If you have children, one of the most important things you have to decide is how to share the time with your kids. Hopefully, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can consider what is best for the child. Creating a time-sharing schedule is just one aspect of a parenting plan. Here are some of the things you might want to include in your own parenting plan:
- How is parenting time split? Remember to include holiday and special events.
- How will the parents communicate with each other? There are apps designed for divorced parents to document communication and share a calendar together.
- How are children dropped off and picked up? Generally, it is better if the parent with current physical custody take the children to the other parent's home. This means the kids aren't interrupted when they are in a game or the middle of dinner.
- What rules exist in both homes? For example, homework must be completed before television or game time.
- How will parents handle disputes? Who makes the final decisions? When should a mediator get involved?
- How will the plan adapt to the growing needs of the child? When children begin to play sports, who is responsible for getting the child to games and to practice? What happens when the child takes a job or has band practice after school? Your parenting plan will need to change with the child's needs, and should address this.
Both parents are important to growing children
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children firmly maintains that children need both parents. Research shows that children who spend at least 33 percent of their time with each parent do better in school and have better social skills than those who are primarily with one parent.
The law has many different factors which determine how to share time. It is important to think about what is best for the child. When two parents can work out a plan together, it is better for all parties than giving the court the last word. It may not be easy to make this plan with someone who you cannot live with, but you are the best people to make arrangements for your child's needs.
Divorce is not the end of parenting together, but the beginning of co-parenting for the benefit of the child. Work together with a mediator and the other parent to help your child have both parents involved, and talk to your attorney about the legal considerations when creating a parenting plan.