Separating from your partner when you have children together can be a stressful and overwhelming task. Even if you have the best intentions with ending the relationship, talking with your partner about separation and a plan for parenting time can be intimidating and nerve-racking. There may be a lot of history between the two of you, and conversations that you envisioned going smoothly may quickly turn into arguments with each of you playing the blame game rather than focusing on how to move forward.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to create an amicable child custody plan with your ex. With over 35 years combined of exclusive family law experience, our team of dedicated attorneys can help you keep these discussions on track and develop a custody plan that works for everyone.
Flexibility and Compromise Can Facilitate Amicable Discussions
Both you and your ex will now have your own, separate lives. You both have different needs and demands for your time. A willingness to accommodate each other’s schedules while creating a workable custody plan can go a long way toward keeping things amicable between you two.
Treat Your Ex with Respect when Creating a Custody Plan
Nothing brings a discussion about custody to a halt faster than name-calling or a disparaging tone. You and your ex will likely be co-parenting for a long time. That time can be a lot easier on everyone, particularly your children, if you are civil with one another and respect each other as equally essential parts to your child’s life.
Prioritize Your Children’s Needs
The separation or divorce from your ex was about the two of you, whereas custody is all about your children. While a painful breakup can cause emotional tunnel vision, do not lose sight of the goal of creating the most productive, healthy, and peaceful life for your children, regardless of the differences between you and your ex.
You and your ex might have different thoughts about the most appropriate custody plan for your kids, and it may feel like you will never agree. If you come to an impasse, step back and ask yourself what solution is most likely to create the best possible living arrangement for your kids. Finding common ground with your ex may be easier if you keep your children’s needs at the forefront of your discussions.
Create a Thorough Custody Plan That is in Writing
If you and your child’s other parent agree on a custody plan, write it down. Setting it in stone will minimize confusion between you as parents and ultimately prevent arguments and decrease tensions. The written agreement should be as detailed as possible, including provisions on childcare, exchanges of children, pick up and drop off times, and how you will handle the kids’ extracurricular activities. The less you leave open to interpretation, the better. It is important to note that these written agreements are not finalized until a judge has reviewed and approved them.
Even the most comprehensive custody plan cannot anticipate all the ways your kids’ needs may change as they grow. You and your ex will need to continue to work together to modify the agreement over time. Sometimes it’s best to put a paragraph into the agreement that declares when you may want to sit down together to see if the current plan is still working and in your children’s best interests a few years down the road. This is particularly helpful if the agreement is being first written when the child is still an infant because, as the child gets older, his or her needs with each parent may change significantly.
Focusing on the Future May Allow for Amicable Custody Plan Discussions
Being civil toward your ex does not mean that you agree with everything that happened in your relationship. It does mean, however, that you have agreed to leave the hurt in the past and concentrate on what is best for your children going forward. Setting aside your differences and working with your ex to develop and maintain an amicable custody plan may be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your children.