Going through a divorce is never easy. However, for divorcing couples with children, the emotional strain of divorce can be that much harder. In addition to dividing your assets with the help of your Denver divorce mediator, you and your soon-to-be ex must also undergo the daunting task of working out a custody schedule to make sure that you are both getting to spend time with your kids. While this may be an extremely difficult conversation that can often be fraught with tension and emotion, it is essential that you and your soon-to-be former spouse put a parenting plan in place while working out the details of an uncontested divorce.
What is a parenting plan?
Simply put, a parenting plan is a blueprint for how you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse intend to co-parent your children in the aftermath of your divorce. Because you are living in two separate residences, it is important to make sure that each of you gets equitable time to spend with your kids so that you can continue to be in their lives.
Why is a parenting plan important?
Having a parenting plan in place before your divorce is final is highly important for several reasons. First and foremost, it is essential that your children feel safe, protected and loved at all times. The turmoil caused by a divorce is felt not just by the couple who is dissolving their marriage but by everyone in the family. Having a parenting plan in place allows your children to sustain some level of normalcy during the upheaval of a divorce. Kids thrive on structure in their lives. Knowing that they’ll be at their home with Mom Sunday through Tuesday and at their home with Dad Wednesday through Saturday every week can help them establish a routine that soon becomes the new normal, allowing them the stability they need.
Additionally, working out a parenting plan together avoids the need for a lengthy, costly and frequently ugly custody battle in court. Unless the circumstances of your divorce extend to abuse or criminal activity, there is no reason why both of you shouldn’t get to remain a constant presence in your kids’ lives. Working together to create a fair, reasonable parenting plan helps you stay away from the murky waters of court-ordered visitation and allows you and your children to establish a healthy new pattern.
What should be included in a parenting plan?
A good place to start when formulating your parenting plan is to devise a schedule of which parent has the kids on which days. Some people prefer to switch off every other week while others find that trading off parenting duties midway through each week suits them best. Keep your own work and travel schedules in mind when creating this part of the plan so that both parents can have some convenience and flexibility in their arrangement.
Additionally, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should hash out some basic details about the care of your children, including rules that must be followed in both households and how you plan to discipline the kids if necessary. Having two households with two different sets of rules and expectations can be confusing for children; despite living apart from one another, it is critical that you and your ex maintain a united front when it comes to raising your kids.
Finally, any child support details, including who pays whom, how much and how often, should be drafted into your parenting plan. In addition to regular child support, it’s important to determine which parent will carry the kids on their health and dental insurance plans, discuss the amount and frequency of contributions to their college funds and plan ahead for future major expenses, like braces or musical instruments, to know in advance what each parent can expect from the other.
By creating a parenting plan with your former spouse, you can ensure that the most important thing to both of you—your kids—continue to thrive and be happy following your divorce.