As you go through your divorce, you may realize that you will still have a significant amount of contact with your future former spouse because you have children together. Despite how you feel about each other, you agree that you need to find a way forward in order to co-parent.
As part of that endeavor, you may sit down to begin negotiating a parenting plan. You may understand right away that this will be the guidebook for your co-parenting relationship. Once you come to this conclusion, you may want to include provisions that will help you avoid unnecessary conflicts that will only damage that relationship and possibly cause your children stress and sadness.
Avoiding conflict is a primary goal of your parenting plan
How you structure your parenting plan could help you avoid the following common co-parenting conflicts:
- To avoid the children feeling as though one parent doesn't spend time with them or ignores them, if either of you must leave the children, give the other parent the right of first refusal when it comes to taking care of them, even if it is their turn to have the children. "Babysitting" for each other gives each of you more time with the children and helps avoid them thinking you don't want to be with them.
- Set up a detailed parenting time schedule in order to avoid arguments about who will have the children when. Make sure to include holidays, vacations and school breaks, among other times that are out of the ordinary.
- Agree in writing not to put the children in the middle, which includes not relaying messages to each other.
- Agree on discipline and the broad strokes of a daily routine to maintain consistency from one home to the other. The two of you don't have to do things identically, but you do need to agree on a basic outline for daily activities and a method of discipline.
- Agree not to micromanage each other even if you think you know better. You are different people who will parent differently, and you each deserve the right to make your own way with the children within the agreed confines of your parenting plan.
- Agree that your children deserve to maintain the relationships they developed with extended family. You don't necessarily have to like your former in-laws, but you need to respect that your children do as long as their safety is not in question.
- Agree not to make large, lavish or frequent purchases for the children without discussing it with the other parent. Parents want to spoil their kids to some extent, but not to the point where it creates problems from one household to the other.
Discussing these issues while creating your parenting plan can help create a less contentious foundation for your future co-parenting relationship. Each of you deserves the right to spend your time with the children as you see fit, but you both also need to consider how it could affect the children and the other parent. You need to continue to work as a team and provide a united front to your children, so they know that you love them, value them and want what is best for them.