Children and Divorce What to Consider When Determining Your Family Time Plan for Co-Parenting

In Florida, we no longer use terms like “custody,” “visiting,” and “primary residential parent” that imply a child is property to be argued about. These terms mislead parents into thinking that ultimately one can win and the other can lose their children.

It is crucial for divorced parents to understand that only their marriage ends. In fact, their familial bond will remain long after the legal divorce is finalized. As the old adage goes, blood is thicker than water. And children have a special way of keeping people in touch.

Every child needs and deserves two parents. Therefore, divorced parents should avoid the win/lose illusion and focus instead on how they will share time with their children and what each parent will be responsible for.

Here are ten things to consider before you decide on your timeshare and parenthood family plan.

1. Your family is unique. And your family is undergoing a restructuring process. Be open to a variety of possibilities. Allow yourself to look at the big picture and focus on your children’s needs.

2. The time to work on feelings of betrayal and abandonment is not while you are making decisions about sharing time with your children. Put these issues aside and deal with them later.

3. Consider which parent is best suited for undertaking, managing, and completing daily parenting responsibilities such as shopping, homework, sick trips to the doctor, routine check-ups, play visits with friends, chauffeuring, daily hygiene and discipline. However, just as important as the parent’s ability to perform parenting responsibilities is his/her obligation to (a) encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent, (b) consult with the other parent and (c) keep the other parent informed on everything. Child related issues such as report cards, illnesses and extra-curricular activities.

4. Consider your children’s connections to their communities and extended family members. Do everything you can to keep these relationships consistent.

5. Your child’s primary accommodation and time-sharing arrangements are not permanent. As your children mature, the arrangements you make must change to fit their lifestyles, needs, and desires.

6. Consider the distance between your homes and the children’s school(s). How will this affect morning and afternoon commutes, participation in school activities, and playing with school friends after school?

7. How can you best adjust your schedules in order to maintain consistency in your children’s bedtime, homework, bathroom, meals, activities etc. during school time.?

8. In a perfect world, every parent would have some play time, some work time (car use, homework, etc.) and some alone time with each of their children.

9. Children should be expected to follow the rules of the family they are in. Be consistent in your home, with your own rules. If the other parent has different rules that’s fine.

10. Babies and young children are best served at shorter intervals with both parents.

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