Separation can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to co-parenting. Custody arrangements during marital separation require patience, cooperation, and a lot of effort from both parents to ensure that your children receive the best care possible.
After initiating the separation, creating an effective co-parenting plan that works for all parties should be one of your first priorities in the process.
What Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is when two parents work together to raise their child even though they are no longer in a romantic relationship. This can be a difficult task, and it is important to remember that your child’s needs always come first in any co-parenting arrangement.
Even if your separation is intended to be temporary or does not result in divorce, a co-parenting agreement must be reached early on if you and your partner have children. A co-parenting plan will give your child(ren) a sense of stability, security, and a clear picture of what to expect from each parent. It can also help reduce you and your partner’s stress and anxieties as you navigate the separation, allowing you to focus more clearly on the reasons for the separation.
What Should Be Included In A Co-Parenting Plan?
If you and your partner are on reasonably good terms, you may be able to agree upon a parenting plan between the two of you. If not, it may be in your best interest to create a co-parenting plan in consultation with a family law attorney. Either way, here are some points that you will need to consider when creating your plan:
- The age of your child(ren)
- Your work schedules
- The location of each parent’s home
- Which parent will have primary custody and how much time the other parent will wend with the child(ren)
- Who will make major decisions about the child(ren)’s education, health care, etc.?
- How will holidays and special occasions be handled?
- How will disagreements be handled?
- What other provisions need to be included that are unique to our separation?
Nurturing Your Co-Parenting Plan
Here are a few things to keep in mind when implementing your plan to ensure that your children feel supported through your separation:
- Communicate with your co-parent regularly. It is important to stay on the same page about parenting decisions and schedules, even while you are separated.
- Try to be flexible. You must follow your parenting agreement whenever possible, but life can be unpredictable. Give yourself permission to adjust your plans if needed.
- Put your child’s best interests first when making decisions about education, health, and overall well-being.
- Seek help from professionals if needed. Parenting can be tough, so don’t hesitate to seek out help from a therapist or counselor for yourself or your children if you feel it could be helpful to do so.
While not every separation ends in divorce, successful co-parenting during separation is usually a good indicator that co-parenting will be successful after divorce. By working together with an experienced family law attorney to create a co-parenting agreement, you and your fellow co-parent can minimize the stress of separation for both yourself and your child(ren).