Creating a schedule for your children and organizing your co-parenting plan is a critical part of a divorce.
During this process, you may feel like you are neglecting your children and not giving them the proper attention they need and deserve. Depending on the relationship between you and your spouse after the divorce, declaring a schedule for your children may be difficult. At our monthly divorce workshop in Raleigh, someone asked us about the timing of this schedule: at the time of our divorce, should we have a court-ordered schedule for kids or is that done at a different time?
The answer is “yes, but.” The “but” is that you don’t have to rely on the court to produce your parenting schedule at all.
Co-Parenting: Decide Your Schedule
Ideally, you and your partner agree to co-parent. You coordinate with your spouse as soon as possible during your separation so that your kids can adjust. Of course, hashing out a plan for what nights kids will spend where involves sitting down with your partner and planning which days and times you both are willing to commit.
Most critically, you must document which days you agree to and follow through on those days. That’s not to say something won’t happen or come up. Life is life, after all. But if one partner tends to drop the ball more often, that’s going to be a source of resentment.
Once you work out a schedule, inform your lawyers and they will coordinate to make that agreement part of your divorce.
When should I get a court-ordered schedule for children?
However, not every couple going through a divorce can work out schedules easily. Chances are that one parent is going to want more time than he/she is getting. Often there are other factors such as location, work schedules, grandparents, or concerns about new girlfriends or boyfriends or even struggles with alcohol or drug dependence.
Some people may wonder, “Do I really have to go to court if we can’t agree on a custody schedule if I can’t agree with my partner?” The answer to this question is yes. If you and your spouse are having a hard time agreeing on the custody of your child/children you will have to go to court to set up a binding custody schedule. As you may know, this can get ugly and you may not like the result. If you and your partner are struggling, you might consider mediation.
Get your specific questions answered by an attorney during our Raleigh divorce workshop each month.