Sharing parenting responsibilities and time with your ex is hard. After all, you broke up or divorced for a reason. You may not relate well to one another anymore. However, when you share children, you will continue interacting not just until the children turn 18 but indefinitely, during special events like graduation, marriages and the birth of your grandchildren.
Finding a way to share these responsibilities and interact appropriately can be a challenge for many co-parents. Including certain terms in your parenting plan can help you better navigate the complexities of co-parenting.
Included standard parenting time rules and rules for exceptions
A big part of what you address in your parenting plan will be exactly how you split parenting time and how you divide other responsibilities, like decision-making authority. It’s important that you have basic, standard rules about the average week for your family in your parenting plan.
However, it is also important to address exceptions to the standard weekly schedule. What happens if the children have a half day at school? What about snow days? How will you adjust your parenting schedule if one of the children wants to go to a three-week sleepaway camp during the summer? Having rules about how you handle these exceptional situations will make it easier to navigate them as they arise.
Include rules for how the parents resolve disagreements
Eventually, parents will disagree about the right way to handle a special event or discipline a child. When that occurs, co-parents need a specific structure for resolving that conflict. Whether you want to communicate in writing or consult with a co-parenting therapist, having a specific approach to employ in co-parenting conflicts will make them easier to resolve.
Address what happens when one parent needs childcare
Sometimes, due to illness or work responsibilities, a parent may not be able to care for the children during their regularly scheduled parenting time. Addressing the situation in your parenting plan now is important.
Many divorcing parents give each other the first right of refusal. That means you have to ask your ex if they want the kids before you make other arrangements. You may want to include rules that limit who can babysit or how long a parent can use an outside child provider.
Thinking ahead to situations that will complicate your co-parenting arrangements can help you craft a parenting plan that withstands the trials of shared parental responsibilities.