Parents needing to establish a co-parenting plan during divorce mediation or litigation should really consider both the short-term and long-term ramifications of their decisions.
Keep in mind that, if you have young children, you and the other parent might need to live with this plan for a decade or more.
Taking a step back and rationally thinking about your plan may give you a different perspective than you have right now in the heat of the moment.
Don’t Burden Your Children with Your Anger
If you’re frustrated that your child still looks at your former husband or wife with unconditional love, devotion and admiration, you’re not alone. Many people in your situation are frustrated their children don’t have the same perspective or information as you do regarding the person they still call mom or dad.
Keep in mind your children’s feelings and how they may internalize the angry, spiteful things said about their other parent. Your children know that they are made up of and are a part of that other parent as well. Not only do you risk putting a lot of confusing negativity on a child who doesn’t understand the context, you also risk a child’s starting to think of him or herself in some of the same terms. After all: ‘if mom or dad is such a terrible person, what does that say about me?’
Child Custody Agreements Aren’t About You
Arriving at a viable parenting agreement plan must be all about what’s best for the children. Parental rights and the love for one’s children shouldn’t be used as weapons to get back at your ex. Even if you win and feel vindicated for making your former spouse suffer, you’re likely doing so at the cost of your children’s happiness and possibly their best interests.
If the other parent loves his or her children, and is committed to doing what’s best for them, then that other parent will likely still be a positive influence on your children’s lives, regardless of the wrongs you perceive the other parent may have committed during your relationship.
Depriving your children of the influence of the other parent, and of a person they love, out of anger or spite will not make for a constructive, healthy and sustainable parenting agreement.
Don’t Overextend in an Attempt to Get All You Want
Just because you may be in the position to get a significant amount of parenting time or prevent your spouse from obtaining anything but the bare minimum of parenting time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in your best long-term interests, or in the best long-term interests of the children.
Family attorneys can likely tell you about scenarios they’ve seen where one parent wants sole decision-making and most of the parenting time, but then has to grapple with how to logistically manage alone with such an exhausting, time-consuming task.
Keep in mind the scheduling factors that could affect your capabilities:
- Do your children all attend the same schools? How close are they to where you live?
- Do your children participate in extracurricular activities?
- How rigorous is your work schedule? Do you have to travel for work?
- Do you have career or social commitments that result in a sometimes unpredictable schedule?
- Do you have reliable, affordable child care solutions?
Communication and Creating a Sustainable Co-Parenting Relationship
It’s important to develop a way to communicate that doesn’t always escalate into arguments or bitter reactions. If talking to the other parent on the phone or even texting or emailing is not productive, consider other tools such as joint calendars. OurFamilyWizard or Google Calendar are tools that can help parents communicate without needing to regularly engage with one another.
These software options track parenting time schedules on the joint calendar. It is also a convenient record-keeper for upcoming school events, immunizations, health records, upcoming doctor or dentist appointments, and even a message board for communicating without having to speak or see each other face to face.
If a dispute ever does arise, OurFamilyWizard or Google Calendar will paint a clear, accurate picture of what happened without needing to resort to he-said, she-said confrontations.
Learn More About Healthy Parenting Arrangements
If you would like assistance developing a parenting plan, or you’d just like to speak with an attorney about what you can and can’t expect in terms of parenting time and allocation of parenting responsibilities during or after your divorce, contact the Conniff Law Offices. Our committed family law attorneys would be happy to sit down with you and give you an honest, straightforward assessment of your situation.