Are you in the midst of a divorce? Breaking up a marriage can be hard enough, but throw single parenting into the mix and it can feel impossible. Here, we’ll give you a starter’s guide to creating a parenting plan for divorce.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Divorce is a difficult process, especially when there are children involved. As parents, it's important to put the kids first and ensure that they have a stable and supportive environment at home. Stability requires planning, so how about starting by creating a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents, which outlines how they will share parental responsibilities following a divorce. Every plan is different, but it will likely include details such as a custody schedule, decision-making responsibility, and clear communication guidelines. The most important guidance for this is to keep the children at the forefront of every decision you make. Here are our top tips for putting together your parenting plan.
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Before you start on the plan, it's important to think about what will be best for the kids. Consider your children’s age and any special needs they have, as well as their routines, activities, and relationships. Think about how you can create a plan that will allow them to maintain consistency across all these areas.
The next key step is to identify the parental responsibilities between you and your co-parent. Think about decision-making authority, day to day care responsibilities and financial elements including child support maintenance. Discuss how you will divide these responsibilities, using a mediator if you need to aid discussions.
Good communication is key to any successful co-parenting relationship. If you can establish clear communication guidelines from the outset, you will avoid conflict at a later date. Think about whether you’d rather communicate with your ex by phone call, emails, or a shared calendar. There are numerous apps available to keep things formal, too.
A custody schedule will outline when each parent will have custody of the children. Many families now opt for a 50/50 split, but other models include weekday/weekend splits or one or two day a week arrangements for the non-primary carer. There is no wrong or right way to split the time, only the wrong and right way for your family. Keep the children’s needs and stability at the front of mind when you’re having these discussions.
Who will have the kids at Christmas’, on birthdays or over the holidays? Who will take the kids if they are sick, or you become ill? Having clear plans in place that you can default to in stressful situations will make everything easier.
Every situation is different, but it might be worth seeking legal advice to ensure the plan you make is enforceable. If you have a history of conflict with your ex, a parenting plan may become a power play, and if your ex is abusive, ensure you seek support so that you are able to stand your ground.
Finally, don’t lose sight of your own wellbeing in this process. Looking after yourself so that you can take care of the children is vital, so make space in all of this to take time for yourself.
Get on the Frolo app and find other single parents who are navigating a divorce and compare notes so that you can not only offer guidance but find solidarity when things get tough.
You’ve got this!