How to Create a Great Parenting Plan That’s Fair to Everyone
One of the best tools you can have as you head into post-divorce life is a thorough parenting plan. Regardless of the relationship you have with your ex-spouse, a parenting plan is crucial. Even those on friendly terms benefit from a plan that clearly outlines what to expect. As you and your ex-spouse begin putting together a parenting plan, use these tips to ensure that everyone’s needs are considered during the process.
Consider the Status Quo
Many people begin by assuming a 50/50 parenting time split. This may be ideal in families with two working parents who equally split parenting duties. However, this isn’t always the best solution for families with one working parent and one parent who stays at home. You may want to look at what the child is currently accustomed to and move forward from there. This can create a more gentle transition for the child and ensure that they don’t go through too many major changes simultaneously.
Don’t Be Too Rigid, But Do Be Consistent
Rigidity is the enemy of a good co-parenting relationship. In some situations, both parents go in with unrealistic expectations of how much time they’ll get and how much control they will have over their child’s schedule. Remember that the goal is a productive co-parenting relationship that allows your child to maintain relationships with both parents. Be willing to compromise and try to remember that you are working together toward a common goal—not working against each other.
However, it is crucial to be consistent in your schedule. Bending over backwards to accommodate one parent can leave a child with a confusing schedule or insufficient time with one parent. Whether you go on a weekly or biweekly parenting schedule, maintain consistency for the sake of the child.
Remember to Cover Holidays and School Breaks
After you and your ex have created a standard schedule, you have to plan for school breaks, summer, holidays, and other situations. Many parents choose to rotate holidays so that the child gets to create happy memories with both parents, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you don’t traditionally celebrate one holiday, for example, you might give it to your ex-partner every year in exchange for a holiday that is important to your own family traditions. Remember, be flexible and consider everyone’s needs.
Regularly Revisit the Question, “Is This Fair to My Child?”
Throughout the process of creating a parenting plan, take a moment to ask yourself—“Am I getting what I want out of this? Am I considering my ex-partner’s needs?” Most importantly, ask yourself, “Am I making choices in the best interests of my child?” It’s easy to lose sight of the goal in an emotionally-charged situation like this, so don’t be afraid to take breaks and come back to the table when you’re ready to continue the discussion calmly.
Writing a fair parenting plan can be challenging, but the results are worth the hard work. It’s just one part of finding peace through strength. For help with your family law needs, contact McConnell Family Law Group at (860) 266-1166 for our Hartford office, or (203) 344-7007 for our New Canaan office (either number for our New Haven office, by appointment only).