Let’s Talk Co-Parenting

Early during the divorce or separation process, parents will face the issue of how to handle shared parenting time and finances. In most cases, parents strive towards shared parenting time so that the children can spend time with both parents. The key is to take into consideration each parent’s work schedule, the children’s school schedules, and the children’s extracurricular activities.

Be Realistic

Each of you may have different ideas about the perfect parenting schedule. Usually, both parents will need to adjust their own schedules to accommodate the final plan. Compromising will ensure that the needs of the children are met with realistic parenting goals. Parenting plans are not a one-size-fits-all approach; the plan should be realistic and work for both the parents and children. Here are a few options: Parenting Schedule Guide.

Be Flexible

Life happens. Situations arise where one parent may be late, sick, or unavailable. This is a normal part of life and does not reflect a parent’s ability to co-parent. Create a backup plan so that a family member, babysitter, or co-parent can serve as a caregiver. In mediation, we discuss and design a parenting plan that includes flexibility and alternative strategies, keeping in mind that even the best-laid plans can go awry.

Be Close

Living closer to your co-parent or the children’s school is ideal. Often, the parents will want to move as far away as possible from the other parent, but this will impact your parenting time and your child’s transition. Closer is better, less than 20 miles apart is often recommended. Be careful not to impact the other parent’s parenting time because of a long transition between homes or school. In many cases, a move can cause co-parenting conflict to arise unnecessarily.

Be Curious

Just because a parent picks the “perfect” parenting schedule on paper does not mean it works in real life. In mediation, parents usually try out a few parenting schedules before we draft the terms of an agreement. It does not make sense to formalize a plan that simply will not work. Please take some time, give it a month, and see how it goes. Make changes and tweaks along the way. The rush to get something “in writing” will not help your family in the long run.

Be Wise

Make wise decisions early on. If a parent has moved out and is temporarily sleeping on a friend’s sofa, it is time to get their own place. Before a parent signs a lease or buys a new house, carefully consider the accommodations and distance. Often, a parent will quickly sign a lease for a one-bedroom apartment or studio loft that will not accommodate the children, and this may influence overnights and parenting time. Slow down, and take your time. Consider that your children will spend overnights with you in the new location, even if it is temporary.

Be Informed

Communication between co-parents can be tricky, but you will need to receive and share information about the children consistently. How much is too much or too little? Most communication should be limited to informing each other about the children’s activities and medical or other appointments. Withholding important information from the other parent will always cause conflict. Communication should only be made directly to the other parent, not through the children. Your children are not your messengers. Many mediation clients find it helpful to use a shared calendar or an app like Our Family Wizard to communicate with the other parent.

Be Proactive

Using a mediator instead of the court system to determine the terms of your custody and child support arrangement is the most peaceful and cost-effective route. Both parents can make decisions about the family together and keep the family out of court. In reality, most parents are capable and do not need attorneys or judges to make parenting decisions for them. Be proactive and mediate first.

Mediation Works

If you are ready to make plans for yourself and your children’s future, give mediation a try. It is a proven method that can help you and your family move forward peacefully. Your family does not belong in court. If you would like to learn more about how mediation can work for you and your family, schedule a consultation here: Clement Mediation