This blog gives a great insight into how parenting plans are becoming more and more recognised as the way for both parents to coordinate their parenting, their lives and their relationship with their children after divorce - written by Rosalind Sedacca, a Divorce & Parenting Coach.
In its simplest form a parenting plan puts in writing the agreed upon schedule both parents have created regarding most or all of the parenting arrangements. It outlines the days, times and other details of when, where and how each parent will be with the children along with other agreements both parents will follow in the months and years to come.
The purpose of the plan is to determine strategies that are in the children's best interest to create smooth, easy and positive transitions. These plans encourage cooperative co-parenting so that the children feel secure, loved, wanted and nurtured by both of their parents.
Plans can vary in depth and scope. Often they include guidelines for routine residential arrangements as well as special occasions, including holidays, birthday and vacation time. Emergency information, decision-making guidelines, processes for sharing information, relocation procedures and means for resolving disputes can also be spelled out to minimise future conflict and provide consistency for the children.
While parenting plans make excellent tools for the family, keep them flexible so that their purpose doesn't get lost in a maze of too rigid rules. Allow for some fluctuation and reassessments as the family ages and also experiences the day-to-day realities of their living arrangements.
Parenting after divorce is all about reassurance, safety and security. Allow your children an adjustment period at the beginning and end of visits as they transition from one home to the other. This is not easy to do for adults. Think of what it must be like for children - regardless of their age.
Whenever possible create a sense of consistency between both homes. Children fare best when mum and dad agree on basic parenting issues and don't contradict one another from home to home. If you do have differing rules, talk to your children about the differences, explain your own parenting style, and don't put down their other parent - even if you don't agree with their values. Your children will learn to adapt to differences in their parents if you don't make a big deal about those issues.
Never forget that you will be a parent to your children for the rest of your life - and so will their other parent. Keep that perspective and focus on ways to collaborate and join forces whenever possible. Your children will be the winners in the long term.
If you would like legal advice on a family matter, please contact a member of our Family Law team at any of our offices in York, Selby, Malton or Pickering. You can find out more about our Family Law team here.