It’s important for co-parents to make a plan for how they’re going to raise their children after a divorce. Part of the reason for this is that shared custody is what the courts often prefer in the modern era. The odds are good that you will have to work with your ex to raise your child, and neither one of you will have sole custody. Another part of the reason is simply that child development experts believe that it’s best when a child has parents who can cooperate and give their children a similar living situation in both homes – similar rules and expectations, for example.
If you and your spouse are working toward divorce and you’re beginning to talk about this parenting plan, here are a few questions you may want to ask.
What schedule will work the best?
The answer to this is unique for every couple, but keep the children’s needs in mind, as well. For instance, it is sometimes better for them to spend all week with one parent who lives near their school, while spending the weekend with a parent who lives farther away. In other cases, parents will simply trade weeks back-and-forth, spending a week with the children and then a week without. There are many different options, but you need to consider both your needs and the children’s needs.
What rules do you want to have?
This can get a bit contentious because you do not have to use the same rules, but it can be better for the children if you agree on some of them. For instance, if children have the same rules regarding curfews or electronic devices, it’s easier for them to adjust to a new, post-divorce living situation that is split between two homes.
What will you do when schedules change?
Finally, parents need to remember that the schedules for their children are going to change throughout the year. A schedule that works during the school year may not work at all over the Christmas break or the summer vacation, for example. In order to prevent conflict at these times, it’s often best for you and your co-parent to design alternate schedules and solutions in advance.
These are certainly not the only things to consider, so be sure you know about all the legal steps you can take as you’re planning for the future.