Although the stereotypical divorce is combative and drawn out, there are ways to make it more amicable. Trying these methods is worth it because a more cooperative divorce leads to a shorter duration, and thus lower costs and less stress for everyone involved.
One of these ways is devising a parenting plan with your spouse. The term refers to the care and living arrangements of your children after the divorce. When you two, instead of a judge, come up with the agreement on your own, it will better meet the needs of your family, and you both will be likelier to adhere to it. Here's where to begin.
What should a parenting plan include?
The basics of a parenting plan address time-sharing and decision-making. This means outlining in detail the following information:
- Schedule of custody or visitation, including holidays
- Changes for vacations and other special occasions
- Transportation and childcare arrangements
- Medical care
- Work opportunities for teens
- Parental relocation
Not only can the agreement go more in depth than just those areas, but also doing so will increase clarity and thus reduce conflict. Other things you may want to include are parental duties, religious and cultural traditions, extracurricular activities, nonessential expenses, and communication methods.
Remember to put your children first
As you create your parenting plan, always put your children first and take into consideration their feelings. What may be inconvenient or unfair to you may be what is best for them. When unexpected things come up after the divorce, remain flexible. Do a little rearranging to work around temporary setbacks, such as sickness. If major life changes happen, you can pursue a modification of your parenting plan. You and your ex can come up with the new plan as you did the first. If you cannot agree on new terms, you can try mediation for a non-contentious approach to working it out.