After splitting from your spouse, your roles as parents will need to change. Many refer to the changed roles as “co-parents,” which make it necessary for both to agree on a parenting plan in the best interest of the children.
Do your absolute best to create a conflict-free life for your child.
If child custody is split, the goal is to have a consistent environment in both homes, which is accomplished with this agreement and by consulting each other when issues arise. The following topics are typically included in such a plan, and the options for each vary depending on your relationship with your former spouse.
Decide to Decide Together
Big decisions, such as choosing what school your child should attend or what type of medical care they should receive, impact your child’s life in big ways. Life-changing decisions should be made together when parenting through divorce.
Children’s Extracurricular Activities and Events
Extracurricular activities, such as sports and music, can sometimes be costly and time-intensive. But that’s not a good reason to keep your child out of these activities. You and your spouse should decide on a budget and your philosophy on activity expenditures. Once you do, you have three options:
- Both parents can enroll a child in activities and both can attend such events as they please.
- A parent may enroll a child into an activity that takes place during a time where the child is under that parent’s care, and may not involve the other parent.
- Both parents must agree to any activity before a child may be enrolled in said activity.
Commit to sharing important information with the other parent in a prompt manner. The following are examples of information that requires detail during a discussion:
- Medical procedures
- Extracurricular activities including date, time, and location
- Everything involving school including homework, report cards, pictures, and events (e.g. conferences, recitals, etc.)
Certain problems will arise through the course of your child’s life that require both parents’ involvement. Unfortunately, these problems can be stressful and can create disagreement between parents. While meeting with teachers, physicians, or psychologists, agree to work together in the best interest of the child.
Although your parenting plan should state that both of you will attend meetings on important issues, each co-parent may be allowed to meet individually with such professionals to discuss their individual concerns. This is allowed as long as each parent notifies the other parent, who should be given the option to meet with the profession alone as well. In all cases, especially during an emergency, information must be shared between co-parents ASAP.
In most cases, if you prefer a certain type of treatment or counseling for your child, you need authorization from both parents.
Do your absolute best to create a conflict-free life for your child. Try to shelter your child from the issues you have with you former spouse. Read Ten Ways to Keep Your Child Out of Your Divorce for tips on being the best co-parent you can be.