How to Plan for Children When You Don’t Plan to Stay Together

How to Plan for Children When You Don’t Plan to Stay Together

You never thought this day would come. After building a life with your spouse or partner and having one or more children, you’ve decided the relationship can no longer work. Yet you both want what is best for your offspring, and that means finding a way to co-parent that allows your children – and yourself – to adjust in a healthy fashion. You want to find a way to be supportive of your children, and that means collaborating with your partner to establish an effective parenting plan.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

Even if you’ve settled a lot of things amicably, disputes can arise when it comes to handling your child’s well-being in a split household. Having a parenting plan establishes a structure and framework by which you can work out any current or future issues with a minimum of conflict, thus reducing stress placed on your child or children. This can also provide much-needed stability for the entire family.

Agree on Terms

The first step of creating an effective parenting plan is defining mutually agreed upon terms. Who’s handling daycare costs? Who’s picking the kids up from soccer practice? Should laundry be done before the kids change households for the month, or should it be sent along to be handled after the switch? These may seem like mundane things, but it’s important to iron them out.

Consult with Your Children

Upon reaching a certain age, perhaps 12 or older, consider consulting with them. Speak with them to understand their needs and make them feel heard. Try to integrate their emotional needs into your parenting plan, rather than focusing solely on your own interests.

Establish Boundaries

It’s important to establish boundaries both for yourselves and for your children. Define what is or is not acceptable, particularly in the case of flexible instances where you may have to make decisions on your own without consulting your co-parent. Respect each other’s boundaries. When in doubt about a boundary, always ask.

Plan for the Unexpected

No matter how well you plan, unexpected things will always crop up. Have a contingency procedure in place for what to do in the event of the unexpected, including emergency phone numbers to call or decision trees to follow. As long as you’re willing to cooperate and work together, you can find a way to build a strong family framework even when the family occupies separate homes.

Looking for more information on co-parenting and handling children and divorce? Reach out to Out-of-Court Solutions.