Whether your divorce is amicable or bitter, if you have a child, it’s important to keep their well-being a priority. For example, creating a co-parenting plan with your ex can make divorce a bit easier on your child. While judges have the authority to make decisions on issues such as custody and visitation rights, you and your ex are better suited to create a plan in your child’s best interest. That said, if your relationship was abusive, the judge has a duty to ensure the custody plan protects your child from danger.
The Importance of a Co-Parenting Plan
Why is a co-parenting plan important? One word: stability. Children need stability and consistency in their lives, particularly during a stressful divorce. Though your marriage has ended, you will need to form a new partnership with your ex that demonstrates to your child that they are secure and loved. For example, remind your child that despite the feelings you and your ex have toward each other, they are loved and in no way responsible for the divorce. Ultimately, your child will learn an important lesson from watching two people working together despite their differences.
Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents
Divorce often results in feelings of anger and hurt. However, it’s important to put those feelings aside in order to effectively co-parent. Here is a list of things NOT to do when co-parenting with an ex:
- Use your child to spy on your ex
- Bad-mouth your ex (or their new partner) in front of your child
- Use your child as a pawn to get back at your ex
- Use your child to carry messages back to your ex
- Force your child to take sides
- Undermine or criticize how your ex is parenting in front of your child
If you stoop to bad-mouthing and forcing sides, your child will grow resentful. Children are not equipped to deal with adult problems, so they should not be in the middle of any issues you have with your ex.
Tips for Creating a Co-Parenting Plan After Divorce
When writing up your co-parenting plan, keep in mind that the primary goal is to create conflict-free communication. Here are some tips to consider when you and your ex sit down to create a plan:
- Set aside your differences
- Use a business-like tone when speaking with your ex
- Make requests rather than statements that can be misinterpreted as demands
- Show restraint
- Communicate frequently
- Aim for consistency in discipline, rules, and schedules
- Be clear on medical needs, education, and financial issues
- Respect your ex in front of your child
- Be flexible
- Encourage your child’s relationship with your ex
- Respect the visitation schedule
The Co-Parenting Agreement
Oftentimes, parents find it helpful to have co-parenting plans defined in a formal co-parenting agreement. This agreement can specifically identify the parties’ intentions, rights, responsibilities, and decision-making and conflict resolution approaches. However, remember that the plan is not written in stone. Therefore, continued open communication with your ex will provide opportunities to change the plan as needed.
Ultimately, working together with your ex-spouse may not always be easy. However, keeping your love for your child at the center of your efforts will create the nurturing and stable environment they need.
A People’s Choice Can Help With Divorce and Co-Parenting Paperwork
Contact A People’s Choice for help preparing your child custody legal documents. We can prepare your co-parenting agreement and help you define your co-parenting plan. Plus, we can also prepare and file any necessary child custody legal paperwork you may need. Call 1-800-747-2780 today to get started.