Divorce is hard on everyone involved, sometimes kids more so than the adults. But as parents, it’s our responsibility to make the transition as easy as possible for them. This means ensuring that your kids feel loved and are in a safe and secure environment. You and your ex-spouse are now in the business of raising a child. Keeping this mindset can help you avoid some actions that may be done out of pure emotion. Another way to avoid potentially harmful decisions is to draft an effective parenting plan. Below are some helpful tips in drafting your parenting plan.
- Establish Living Arrangements and Parenting Schedules. The first thing that you and your spouse need to establish is whether the child will stay predominantly in one household with periodic visits to the other parent, or if the child will spend time equally between the two residences. Special consideration should be paid to issues such as:
- Distance between the two homes, school and support systems
- The who, what, where and how of drop offs and pick-ups
- Childcare issues
- Where the child’s belongings will be kept
- You child’s social activities
- Where the child will spend vacations, holidays and other special days
Writing these issues down in as much detail as possible will save you heartache and hassle later in life. Take note, detail is essential, but so is flexibility. If something needs to change, allow for some wiggle room without losing your cool.
- Determine Health Care Arrangements. Next, the two of you should decide who will be covering the child’s healthcare. It may make more financial sense for one spouse to provide this coverage than the other. You may want to consider co-pays and whether those should be split between the spouses. Other questions to consider are:
- Who will take the child to doctor’s appointments?
- Who will take off work when the child is ill, if both parents work?
- How will health care decisions be made?
Additional consideration should be made for changes in jobs and other circumstances.
- Decide on Modes of Communication Between Parents and Children. If your relationship with your ex-spouse is less than harmonious, consider modes of communication that do not require face-to-face conversations. Remember that children are not messengers and should not be put in the middle of any issues the two of you are having. You should also discuss how each parent will communicate with the child when the child is at the other parent’s home. Will the child have his or her own phone, or use of Skype or Facetime?
- Set Down Discipline and Lifestyle Expectations. Coming to an agreement now, when there is likely not a disciplinary emergency at hand, can be much easier and more productive.
- Determine How You Will Approach Future Changes to the Parenting Plan. As your child grows and your circumstances change, you will need to decide how these changes will affect the parenting plan. Consider having periodic check-in sessions to determine what is working and what needs to change.
If your family is experiencing divorce right now, there are a lot of things to consider. One of the best choices you can make is to talk to an experienced New Jersey family law attorney. Contact us online or at 732-603-8585 today for a free consultation.