During your divorce, the best way to arrive at a parenting plan that is appropriate for the unique needs of your family is to figure it out in cooperation with your ex. You are the ones who know your children best. You know your scheduling complications and the dynamics of your family. Ideally, you and your ex will be able to find a time and place with no interruptions and hammer out a plan that works for everyone for the long haul.
Of course, if it were that simple, you would probably not be considering divorce. You or your ex may have your issues with communication and cooperation, so the thought of negotiating a fair and workable custody and parenting plan may seem impossible. However, with a few ground rules, you may be able to overcome your personal conflicts and find a way that is best for the children.
Tips for working with your ex
Many parents find it helpful to begin by imagining the situation from their children's point of view. As difficult as it may be for you to be with your ex, remember that your children love their other parent. You may have to consider the positive qualities your ex has as a parent and resolve not to deprive your children of the relationship that is so important to them. With that in mind, you are ready to tackle these and other issues:
- The logistics of the children traveling between homes throughout the week, getting to and from school, and maintaining relationships they already have may determine how close to each other you will live.
- Children's schedules change, including after school activities, sports, music lessons, and school holidays.
- If your children are older, you may want to include them in the planning, or at least allow them to comment on the results.
- Remember that the goal is not to create a plan that is most convenient for you, but a certain amount of convenience may make your plan more workable.
- Constructing a parenting plan is not the time to punish your ex by insisting on scheduling that will leave him or her with all the sacrifices.
- Be prepared to revisit the plan within a few weeks to see how you can adjust it or incorporate factors you did not include.
The key is that planning a parenting schedule is not a competition. It is not a good idea to keep score of the number of compromises you make compared to your ex. In fact, your demonstration of cooperation may be an example to your ex to meet your sacrifices halfway. Nevertheless, with any element of your divorce, there is always a chance that your rights will be jeopardized. Seeking a review of your plan from a skilled Minnesota attorney may ensure you are on the right track.