Yes, it’s that time of year again, it’s back to school. Revising
school year schedules is a must for many parents and in particular for
divorcing or divorced parents.
As a psychologically trained family law attorney and mediator, I help parents
all the time with custody, visitation, and parenting plans.
In one of my “divorce story” blog posts, I briefly described
helping a couple with revising a visitation schedule/parenting plan for
the new school year and got lots of questions.
I thought I would address some of their questions in my blog post today.
Visitation and parenting schedules can be very complicated with divorced
or divorcing parents juggling work, school, and extracurricular activities.
As children age and their needs and schedules change so also do parents’
schedules change! Taking time to re-evaluate and update your plan is a
daunting task for everyone. You may need to regularly update your parenting
plan to ensure your children get the time they need and want with you both.
Developing a parenting plan alongside your spouse is an important step
towards helping your children adjust to the changing schedule.
Although the process is primarily to divide the child custody responsibilities,
it is also about showing your child that you love him/her and will always
do what is in their best interest.
As a seasoned family attorney and mediator, I have some creative ideas
when it comes to designing and updating parenting plans. I first encourage
couples to be empathetic and considerate and to always put their child first!
Here are some of my creative co-parenting suggestions:
Imagine Your Child’s Day-to-Day Life
Traveling back and forth between two homes is not easy. It also takes time
to adjust to not living with two parents. Consider what your child will
gain and miss. My suggestion—minimize the disruptions and chaos
as much as possible. Create a daily schedule that addresses everyone’s needs.
Think About the Logistics
If you are sharing a significant amount of parenting time, it’s important
to live close by or at least to make the traveling time manageable.
Choose a Reliable Childcare Provider
Another helpful tool is utilizing a childcare provider you both trust.
If you have young children, having a babysitter they are already accustomed
to gives the children comfort and provides some reliable support to the
family. This also minimizes the amount of change you are introducing into
your child’s life.
Consider Your Child’s Schedule
Make plans with your children’s schedule in mind. If your children
stay after school for extracurricular activities, keep that in mind when
you are creating your parenting plan. Don’t forget to include seasonal
activities as well.
You don’t want to create a parenting plan that requires your child
to drop a favorite activity. Try to keep your child happy and content
with as little change as possible.
Ask Your Children What They Think
Giving your children the opportunity to provide their input for the parenting
agreement can be beneficial for everyone. Younger children need parents
to make decisions for them. Older children feel heard when asked to be
part of the process and less traumatized when they are asked to be involved.
It makes things a little less scary.
Your Convenience Is not the Goal
It’s natural to create a parenting agreement that is convenient for
you, but it’s not all about you. The purpose of your parenting agreement
is to support your children by meeting their needs and supporting their
ongoing relationship with both parents. Compromise is paramount. Sometimes
sacrifice on your part is necessary.
Don’t Keep Track of Winning and Losing
I know it’s tempting to keep track of your many sacrifices and comparing
your losses to your former partner’s wins. Always keep in mind this
plan is about what’s best for your children. The reality is you
are both going to make sacrifices. This is all part of being a good parent.
Don't Use the Schedule as Revenge
A parenting agreement is not a tool for seeking revenge. No need to sabotage
your former partner’s personal life. Be reasonable and considerate
and try not to play games. You are toying with your children’s happiness.
Focus on your children’s needs and forget about your personal agendas.
As a family law attorney and mediator with more than 35 years of experience,
I have an expertise in custody, visitation, and parenting agreements.
If you would like me to help with custody, visitation, or your parenting
plan, call me. I am here to help you and your family with some inventive
suggestions that will be structured to meet your needs and that of your
family as they start the new school year!
I look forward to helping you and your family to create a back-to-school
plan you can all live with!
Call New York Divorce Attorney Lois Brenner now! She will help you with
custody, visitation, and creating the right parenting plan for all your needs!
Call to schedule your consultation today! 212.734.1551.