If you and your spouse get a divorce and you have children, odds are you will end up co-parenting the kids. While there are cases where just one parent gets custody, they are rare. It is far more common for parents to share custody and work together to co-parent their children.
Hopefully, this will all go smoothly, but there are potential issues the two of you could run into. It’s important to consider them in advance as you make your parenting plan. Here are a few examples.
You have different schedules or rules
Perhaps you want the children to be in bed at eight o’clock every night so that they’re ready for school. When they stay with your ex, though, he or she lets the kids stay up until 10:30. Or, perhaps you do not approve of spanking the children and prefer to use time-outs as punishment, but your ex does. Ideally, you two need to talk about rules as you craft the parenting plan and find something you agree on, as it’s better for the children to have consistency.
You both want the children at the same time
During a normal week, trading time back and forth is simple, but what about special occasions? Maybe you both want to have the children on Christmas morning, for example, or you both want to take them on a trip for Spring Break. Your custody agreement can address this, and it’s wise to make a solid plan in advance so that you both know what to expect.
The children have a preference
One of the hardest things for any co-parent is when the children make it clear that they would prefer to be with the other parent. You need to watch out for parental alienation, which is when one parent creates this dynamic intentionally, but it can also happen naturally at certain times in the children’s lives. Make sure that the custody schedule is still followed, regardless of what they want.
Setting up a plan
These are just a few examples, but you can see how complicated co-parenting may become. The more you know about your legal options, the more you can do to set up a plan that works for your family.