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Ground Rules for Creating a Flexible Co-Parenting Plan

parents With Their Child
When creating a co-parenting plan with your ex during or after a divorce, specificity is key to the success of the plan. It's important to go over the minute details and possibilities, making decisions in advance on many aspects of your kids' lives. However, keep in mind that flexibility will ultimately be beneficial for your kids.

A co-parenting plan that isn't flexible based on the needs of the children is doing them a disservice. However, co-parenting plans also need to be taken seriously and followed as closely as possible when kids don't need changes to take place. To prevent an ex from taking advantage of the flexibility based on what the kids need, set ground rules.

Agree on Which Matters Will Be Flexible

Avoid an ongoing sequence of feuds over what should be flexible and what shouldn't be by addressing this detail up front. Be specific about how flexible you both are willing to be on which matters. For example, it would be unreasonable to prevent one parent from going to a sporting event in which the kids play, so that may be an inflexible matter.

If your children are active, you may need leeway on who takes them to which events. To ensure that a child may attend all meetings of a Girl Scout group that are held while the custodial parent is working, the other parent who doesn't have custody on that day of the week may need to drive the child to the meeting and supervising it.

The things that you need flexibility on will largely depend on your children's lifestyle. If kids are too young to have many extracurricular activities, they may not yet need too much flexibility, but you and your ex need to consider their future needs when designing the plan. Don't just assume that things will work themselves out. If you have any concern about the future, bring it up.

Set Clear Boundaries 

Most of the flexibility in your parenting plan will center on the kids' needs, but you and your ex should set boundaries so that remains the focus. For example, you may agree that you aren't okay with your ex taking on voluntary overtime that interferes with the custody arrangement. However, if your ex is required to work overtime, you may be willing to work with them.

Another part of peacefully coexisting within a flexible parenting plan is agreeing to consequences for broken boundaries. If your ex has lied or manipulated the kids to get the parenting plan to go their way, be specific on what the consequences of that would be. That's on the serious end of things, but you should also have consequences for breaking small boundaries.

The consequences don't necessarily have to be a punishment for the offending party, but they should be created to discourage overstepping and breaking boundaries. The consequences should also only be felt by the adults. Don't ever agree to penalize the other parent by taking away time with the kids. After all, they could be the ones to suffer the most in that scenario.

Keep Kids Out of the Planning Process

Although you may be considering all aspects of your kids' lives as you make the parenting plan and negotiate the details of its flexibility, don't burden your children with too many details of the plan. While children will want to know about decisions made on their behalf, keep discussions simple and age-appropriate. 

Never leave a complex choice in the hands of kids. They can become overburdened by such a responsibility, especially if it could hurt the feelings of either parent. Simply reassure your children that both parents love them equally and unconditionally and that you are making choices out of love for them.

Finally, when you have a concern about custody, trust the family law specialists at the Law Office of Richard Eldridge. We can help you through every step of a divorce, custody battle, or other family law matter. Our experience and knowledge of family law will empower you to focus on other things in your life while we take care of the legal issues you may be facing.

Law Office of Richard Eldridge
Certified Family Law Specialist*

615 10th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

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Phone: 916-447-7425

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