It’s not a chess game, but all too often, a divorce turns into a series of strategic maneuvers, with each person trying to gain an advantage over the other. And if children are involved, they can become pawns in the game. Understandably, during a divorce, emotions are running high, feelings are hurt, and each parent is trying to protect his/her own interests. But checkmate – “winning” – should never be the ultimate goal. The best interests of your children should always come first.
Even more important than the stuff you need to divvy up, a comprehensive parenting plan (also called a custody agreement) is an essential part of any divorce agreement which involves children. Even if the divorce is amicable, misunderstandings can arise and circumstances can change. What are some factors that should be considered?
Change as little as possible
What is the current parenting situation? In other words, who takes the child to school or other extracurricular activities? Who helps with homework? Are there specific activities or hobbies that the child does with one of the parents? As much as possible, maintain a sense of regularity and stability for your child.
Future living situation
Will one parent continue to live in the family home? If so, will it be best for it to remain the child’s primary residence? Will one of the parents move out of town or out of state? If so, what visitation arrangements should be made? How and when will the child communicate regularly with the absent parent?
Both parents and children will continue to have specific daily schedules and routines. What time does the child need to be at school, and what time does school finish? Are there are extracurricular activities, and if so, which days? What time does each parent need to be at work in the morning? When are they finished? What is the distance/travel time from home or place of employment to your former spouse’s home or the child’s school? Do the parents have other activities in the evenings? Plans for holidays and vacations should also be included.
Be realistic and flexible
Parenting plans are neither predetermined nor set in stone. Create a plan that works best for you, your former spouse, and your child. And expect that it will need to be adjusted from time to time. Be realistic in your expectations of both yourself and your former spouse.
We can help
There will, undoubtedly, be unforeseen circumstances and changes that will arise down the road. A simple verbal agreement is never a good idea. When putting together a parenting plan, Hardin Law Firm PLLC is experienced in family law and can help you with a parenting plan that is in the best interests of all involved.