Divorce impacts every part of a parent’s life. This includes such essential but often competing priorities as children and career. It can mean that dad is now more hands-on by picking up the kids after school or ferrying them to sports or music lessons. For mom, it can mean returning to work outside the home to help provide for the family. Parenting plans can help parents accommodate these circumstances and others.
Breadwinners may need to reevaluate
The marriage may have been a traditional division of work where dad supported the family, and mom ran the house and focused on raising the children. This arrangement may have worked, but it now may be a case where dad wants to be more hands-on, particularly as the family finds its’ footing after the split. However, it may not be realistic for dad to leave work to do school pick-ups or to co-parent on a day-to-day basis.
Determining the right balance
Parents will often share custody equally, but their daily involvement may not be equal. Fundamental issues to weigh when creating a parenting plan include:
- The children’s needs: This should be a priority, and both parents will need to agree on what is best for the children.
- Work demands: Some jobs do not have flexibility, nor may it be realistic to work less to accommodate a half-half split.
- Work flexibility: Many coworkers and managers have become more patient with balancing family and work as long as work gets done, and early departures are prearranged.
- Help may be essential: Working parents often depend on private childcare or after-school services. It is often an acceptable arrangement as long as it is in the parenting agreement, and the parents are available for dinner and time with the kids.
- Cooperation: Optimum coparenting takes communication, patience and cooperation.
Create a plan that works for the entire family
The children’s needs should come first, but parenting plans with the best chance for success balance this with parents’ needs and obligations. As is often the case, the plan will likely need to be adjusted as the family settles in, and the children’s needs change. Typical changes can be written into the original plan, while unexpected shifts may need a legal modification to the divorce agreement.