After a divorce, parents in California will need to work together to co-parent their children. This can be challenging, particularly if the divorce was not an amicable situation, but with cooperation, a detailed parenting plan and the focus on the best interests of the child, parents can successfully co-parent their children.
The value of a specific parenting plan
A basic parenting plan establishes a child custody schedule and includes information about when and where the child will move from one parent’s custody to the other parent’s custody. However, a specific parenting plan can include a lot more information and prevent conflicts arising from miscommunication. Parenting plans can include:
- How holidays, special events and vacations will be handled
- Which general rules and expectations will be enforced in both homes
- How parents will communicate with each other
- How and when a new significant other will be introduced to the children
- How educational, medical and religious upbringing decisions will be made
The children should never be in the middle of the split
Keeping the focus on the best interests of the child as you co-parent means remembering that the adults are the ones who have gone their separate ways and the children should not be made to feel they are in the middle of the break-up. Both parents should encourage their children to continue developing their relationship with the other parent and should be careful not to say anything negative about the other parent. As well, parents should be wary of falling into the habit of using their children to send messages to the other parent or to spy on the other parent.
Allow your children to express what they are feeling about the divorce and the changes it brings and support them. Emotional support, from both parents, will be important to the development of the child after the divorce.