Most experts agree that children can thrive after their parents’ divorce if they have stability in their living situation. In Tennessee, this means the parents share child custody based on a parenting plan that is practical, sustainable and in the child’s individual best interests.
As a parent, you want your children’s lives post-divorce to be as happy, safe and nurturing as possible. The best way to do this is to work out a solid parenting plan with your ex. Here are six tips for creating the ideal parenting plan for your family.
1. Know your kids’ best interests
You and your ex know your children better than anyone else. Now is the time to think carefully about what they need the most in their living situation. What are their physical and emotional needs? Is splitting time between your home and your ex’s practical, given how far apart you live? Where do they go to school? Taking the answers to these and similar questions into account is vital.
2. Choose a workable schedule
You and your ex can pick any kind of shared custody schedule you choose, but it should be a schedule that the two of you can sustain long-term. Common options include having the children switch off weeks at each parent’s home; spending two days at each home, then five days apiece at each home; and splitting Monday-Thursday between the parents, then spending alternating three-day weekends with each parent.
3. Keep the lines of communication open
The plan should include a method and structure for communication between yourself and your co-parent. For example, you could agree to a phone call or email with at least a week’s notice for any necessary, temporary changes to the schedule. Or you could have biweekly check-ins on email.
4. Handling big decisions
As co-parents, you will share the responsibility of making major decisions about your children’s upbringing, such as choosing their schools, doctors and religious education. Your plan should address these areas.
5. Review your child’s financial needs
To ensure that the child support you or your ex pays is accurate, keep a running log of your children’s expenses. The plan should also explain how important expenses, like tuition, will be paid.
6. Keep your long-term goals in mind
Consider how you want your children to look back on this period in their lives. Will they remember their post-divorce childhoods fondly? Let this be your guide in every decision and negotiating position you take.
If you have questions about creating a parenting plan, contact an experienced family law attorney.