Navigating the waters of co-parenting with your newly-divorced ex may seem like an impossible endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Establishing healthy habits from the beginning can make a tremendous difference in creating positive experiences every time you and your ex must make a decision regarding your child. By keeping the line of communication open, making your expectations clear, and compromising when necessary, you can ensure that you and your ex maintain an amicable co-parenting relationship while always putting your child’s needs first. Here are 5 things to consider when making your co-parenting plan.

Daily Routine & School Schedule

First and foremost, it’s important to think about what your child’s day-to-day life will look like. Providing as much consistency as possible for the child should be your primary goal, even if it means a bit of an inconvenience for you and your ex. Questions to address that will make their daily routine and academic schedule as smooth as possible include:

  • Where will the child stay and when?
  • When will they communicate with the parent they aren’t staying with?
  • Who will pick up, drop off, and transport to activities?
  • How will report cards be handled?
  • Will both parents attend parent-teacher conferences?

As the child grows older and circumstances change, it’s important to communicate with your ex and adjust your roles accordingly.

Discipline

When the times come to discipline your child, you and your ex should be on the same page. Even if you agree on how to address problems now, this may not always be the case. Be sure to talk frequently about how your child is behaving, what your expectations are, and present a united front when you must correct your child. When things aren’t working for one of you, it’s time to create a new disciplinary co-parenting plan together.

Holidays

Between busy schedules and family traditions, holidays can be complicated in divorced families. No matter how badly you’d like to have your child with you for every holiday and event, special occasions are all about compromise and doing what’s best for the child. When planning out holidays with your ex, be clear about what holidays and traditions are important to you, while being sensitive to their desires as well. If you both want the same day, is it possible to split the day between the two of you? If not, alternating holidays is an arrangement everyone can usually agree on.

Travel Plans

For some families, traveling out of town is a rare circumstance, but for others, this may be a weekly occurrence. If you or your ex travels for work on a regular basis, lives far away from the other, or are planning to take your child on vacation, hammering out the details in advance is critical.

  • How will these travel plans affect the child’s schedule?
  • How far in advance would you like to know when your ex is going out of town?
  • Who is your child allowed to travel with?
  • How far away are they permitted to go?

It’s best to answer these questions before planning trips to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Financial Responsibilities

Outside of daily expenses that are usually covered by child support, who will pay for the extra costs that will inevitably pop up in your child’s life? Will the child be covered by your ex’s health insurance or yours? What about extracurricular activities, hobbies, and spending money?  It’s always wise to discuss every scenario up front, no matter how insignificant, so that you aren’t surprised by a bill you assumed your ex would cover.

Perspective in Your Co-Parenting Plan

Co-parenting doesn’t have to be messy or stressful. By working together as a team, you and your ex can effectively create a co-parenting plan that works well for you both, and most importantly, for your child. For more tips on how to amicably co-parent or to learn more about your options during a divorce, contact the Ellender Law Firm today.