Monthly Archives: October 2014

Recently a friend of mine got a divorce. She and her (now ex) husband have two little girls ages 6 and 9. My friend and the girls’ dad decided that they wanted to try a shared parenting arrangement in raising their girls. I was talking to her a few weeks ago and I asked her how the shared parenting was going. She told me that it was a little rocky at first, but now things are going a lot smoother. She then told me that creating a solid parenting plan was the key to successful shared parenting. She said that since they finished and implemented the parenting plan, both parents know what is going on and the schedule has been much easier to manage. She also said it was much more stable for the girls because they had a steady and reliable schedule–and they were able to see both parents. While we were discussing this, my friend and I came up with some ideas of how to create a parenting plan. Here are three suggestions that we came up with.

1. Start with the basic needs. When you create you plan, you can start at the very beginning–with the child’s basic needs. Make sure that your custody agreement offers the child protection, guidance, medical coverage, good care, adequate rest, and love from both parents. Now, with most of these things, you can’t fill out a form to make them happen. But, you can keep them in the back of your mind and make sure that anything you put in the custody schedule or the custody agreement backs up one of these basic principles. It’s also good to decide the important basic things your child needs and discuss them with the child’s other parent–this can ensure that you are both on the same page. If you have a shared parenting agreement, it is especially helpful to discuss how these needs are going to met by both parents so that the children can benefit.

2. Adjust your plan to the child. My friend told me that she had to keep reminding herself that the parenting plan was about the children. She said that sometimes when she was creating the visitation schedule, it was tempting to vie for more time or more holidays. But, she tried to keep the goal of doing what was best for the children and that made the whole processes a lot easier. You plan should fit the children. If the children are older they may be able to handle a lot of change and rotation in schedule. Younger kids generally do better with more stability. Also, different children have different personalities and there may be better schedules to suit them–or there may need to be certain provisions in the agreement for that child.

3. Work out the details. This includes coming up with a custody and visitation schedule that works for your situation. It’s good to come up with a year long calendar so the kids (and you!) have a reliable schedule to follow. In my friend’s shared parenting agreement, they split the time almost in half. In other situations there will be other time-shares. It’s also a good idea to schedule a regular meeting with your former spouse to discuss the children. It’s good to think of this as a business meeting. You should only discuss the children (leave the other issues for other times or this meeting can get out of control) and have a time limit on the meeting. It’s helpful to take some notes and come with an agenda as well.

It was good to see my friend so happy with her shared parenting plan. Of course she had to go through a lot of stress and other emotions to get to this point. But, the end result is what works best for the children and for the parents–which is the goal for any custody agreement. And that’s what we decided is something important to remember–work out an arrangement that makes the kids and the parents happy and you’ll be in a good place.

Learn how you can create your perfect parenting plan and get more information about shared parenting.

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