For most parents, every aspect of their divorce agreement revolves around the time they’ll get to spend with their children and the resources they’ll have to care for them. I’m always happy to see that most parents are so passionate about having a starring role in their children’s lives, but that passion can ultimately make divorce a very difficult time for both parents.
It can be excruciating to give up important time with your kids during divorce negotiations; weekends and holidays are both commonly divvied up between parents, which sometimes means the end of important family traditions. You may even have the added stress of disagreeing with your ex-spouse about who should receive joint custody. All hope isn’t lost, though! There are plenty of co-parents who have made a parenting time schedule that works for themselves, their ex-spouse, and their kids. If you hope to create a parenting schedule that works for you and your ex-spouse, follow the tips in this article. These pointers will give you a great starting point, and hopefully they will get you in the right mindset for cooperative negotiations with your ex.
Address Concerns Upfront
If you are currently in the process of divorcing your spouse, you should address future parenting concerns as much as possible during the mediation process. While your parenting time schedule should definitely be up for discussion, you can also use this time to talk about any other concerns specific to your kids and your situation. This can help cut down on possible conflict with your ex-spouse in the future since you’ll both know what to expect as your kids get older.
It’s beneficial to have your child custody attorney present when discussing any issues pertaining to parenting in the context of divorce. An experienced family law attorney will usually have the skill set to create comprehensive parenting plans that go beyond a basic schedule, so he or she can help you address additional parenting issues. Concerns to address upfront may include the religion your kids will practice, the discipline style you and your co-parent will both use, and how you plan to maintain your children’s relationships with extended family and friends.
Be Prepared To Make Some Concessions
You should be willing to accept that you will likely have to make some concessions when determining a parenting time schedule. This can mean settling for less time with your kids than you initially hoped for, or it can mean giving up some important days with your kids in exchange for the highest priority events. For example, if Christmas has been your family’s most special or important holiday for years, it’s safe to assume both you and your ex-spouse hope to be able to spend time with the kids around Christmas. You might need to split that time down the middle to keep both of you happy. Alternately, you can offer to give up another holiday with your kids if your spouse agrees to a parenting time plan where you get to spend Christmas with them.
Think About Your Kids’ Priorities
It’s important to keep your kids’ desires in mind when you’re setting a parenting time schedule with your ex-spouse. You might love family time on the weekends, but if your kids are older and like spending time with friends on Saturdays, it may be best to plan an arrangement that keeps them happy. If their friends live just down the street from your ex-spouse’s home, for example, set aside some time in the schedule for the kids to stay at that house on the weekend so they can have some precious neighborhood play time. You’ll definitely miss your children when they’re not around, but it may be for the best; keeping them from their friends and extracurricular activities could cause tension to build between family members down the line.
Have A Plan For Communication
In my opinion, one of the most important components to any successful parenting time schedule is effective ongoing communication between parents. As early on as possible, determine the best method of communication for you and your ex-spouse. You may do best with phone calls, text messages, or emails. Try to keep your conversations as civil as possible, keeping in mind that it’s always beneficial to your kids to see their parents getting along. Don’t try to make schedule changes or arrangements through the kids; not only is there a possibility for miscommunication, it can also create an uncomfortable situation for them. The more you are willing to work with your ex-spouse to keep a line of communication open, the better chance your parenting plan has of being successful long-term.
Allison Maxim is a St. Paul divorce lawyer whose firm, Maxim Law, is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Allison takes a problem-solving approach to her cases and works closely with each client to develop a strategy that will maximize results. She believes strongly in the benefits of mindfulness and supporting her clients in their time of need.