Getting Divorced? Take Time to Write a Parenting Plan
Even an amicable divorce can be busy, stressful, and painful for your children, as well as for you and your spouse. That’s why writing a parenting plan is one of the most important things you can do right now to help ease them through this difficult transition. A parenting plan will increase the certainty and improve the care your children receive after the divorce by spelling out exactly how important childcare issues will be dealt with. It will prevent potential conflicts that could arise in the future, and give your children the stability they need.
Your parenting plan should include agreements for:
The first thing you have to decide is whether or not you will share custody of your children. If you both do not wish to, you need to decide which one of you will be the primary caregiver, which can be a very difficult decision to make. Your children need you to resolve this issue, though, however difficult the decision is. On a related note, you should also decide if the custody agreement will be an informal one or a legally binding one.
If you decide on a shared custody agreement, the next thing you need to do is work out a visitation schedule. Determine when the children will be with each parent. Will they live with one parent on weekdays and the other on weekends? Do they live with one during the school year and the other during the summer? Whatever you agree too, be sure your agreement has the ability to accommodate any unexpected developments. You also need to work out which one of you will have your children for which of the holidays and special occasions.
You will also need to come to an agreement about who will be trusted to provide babysitting and daycare services for both parents. Either relatives or professional services could be used but, either way, it is important that both you and your spouse trust whoever is selected.
Will your children go to a public or private school? How will college be paid for? Both you and your spouse need to answer these questions and any other school-related questions, no matter what age your children are.
You also need to talk about how or if your children use prescription medications, how mental health care issues will be addressed, and any other medical issues that could come up. You also should decide whose health insurance will be used for your children, and how premiums and copayments will be made.
It is not surprising if you and your spouse are having trouble communicating in the middle of your divorce. If this is the case, you should agree on how the two of you communicate about important issues. Maybe only communicating by email is best, or only through a third party. Use whatever works best for keeping the communication neutral and free of negative emotions.
It can be difficult to come to an agreement on how to deal with your children while your marriage is coming to an end. It is worth the trouble, though. If you work out an agreement now, your children will quickly be able to find a sense of stability and a sense of the new normal.
Divorce is often difficult for the adults but the impact on the child may be devastating and long term. It is essential that the irreconcilable differences of the parents do not undermine the stability, development and trust of the child. Having and maintaining a viable plan to ensure the comprehensive needs of the child are met is important but genuinely and respectfully implementing the plan will provide all parties with a deeper sense of respect for each other.