Divorce creates an abundance of emotions, including pain, frustration and anxiety for parents, and their children usually share those feelings. Deciding where kids will live is one of the most critical and challenging decisions, so it’s essential to establish a binding agreement.

Some parents cooperate to establish a parenting plan that’s fair to everyone, while others take their dispute in front of a judge. Parents who work together to create their own schedule make the process easier while also easing their children’s pain.

Factors for establishing a co-parenting plan

A co-parenting plan outlines the parents’ goals, schedules, responsibilities and contact over raising their kids. When discussing their children’s futures, parents should consider the following components:

Living arrangements: This largely determines day-to-day care for children. Ideally, both parents live in the same vicinity to maintain consistency for their kids. They should answer questions such as:

  • Who has full custody, and who has visitation rights?
  • Will you share custody?
  • How much time will the child spend with the other parent?
  • If they live close to each other, will there be flexibility with sleeping arrangements?

Visitation schedule: The plan must detail how much time each parent receives with the kids. If custody is not equal, the non-custodial parent typically gets 20% of parenting time.

Schedule holidays, summers and special occasions: These periods offer some of the most positive memories for families. It’s crucial to plan these out well in advance to avoid contentious feelings later on.

Put your children’s best interests first

While it’s important to put a co-parenting plan in writing, it’s also essential to outline how to handle any violations of the agreement. An experienced family law attorney can help find a workable arrangement for parents and their children.

After finalizing the agreement, it’s time to sit down with your kids and explain how it will work, so they are in the loop and know what to expect going forward. A little preparation and cooperation can go a long way to alleviate as much of their stress as possible.