Divorce is never easy, even for amicable spouses. The process can become even more complicated when there are children involved. While you and your ex may want to move on with your lives after ending your marriage, your children will continue to keep you connected, especially if you’re planning to co-parent.
When a divorced couple decides to co-parent, it means they will continue to work together in raising their children. This means making decisions together and working together to manage their children’s schedule. It can even mean going on holidays together and celebrating major occasions together.
Co-parenting requires a huge commitment from both parents. It is therefore important to think carefully about it before you choose this path. You may want to consider the following as you make your decision.
1. Where will the children’s ‘home base’ be?
Many children whose parents co-parent spend roughly equal time at each parent’s home. However, there should still be a home that is designated as their ‘home base.’ This is not only for legal purposes but is also practical. A home base provides a child with a sense of stability; a place they can call home.
2. Developing a residential schedule that works
Because you will both still be actively involved in raising your children, it is important for the children to spend time with each parent. Many co-parenting former spouses develop a residential schedule that details when the child will be spending time with each parent. This schedule is key to ensuring that parents work together. It should therefore be workable. However, you should leave room for change in case of changes in circumstances or schedules of any of the parents.
3. The rules in each home
One of the biggest challenges of co-parenting is maintaining a sense of stability for the children. Many parents will try to endear themselves to their children in the hope that they will like them better than their ex-spouse. However, this only results in behavioral problems in children in the long term.
It is important for parents to maintain consistency in both houses. This means having the same rules and methods of enforcing them. This will provide your children with the added stability they need.
4. Holidays, birthdays and other events and celebrations
Will you take vacations together as a family or schedule separate vacations? Will you be celebrating birthdays and holidays such as Christmas together, alternate or organize separate events? It is important to find a way that works best for everyone. You may be more comfortable celebrating events separately and therefore consider alternating holidays, e.g. one spouse has the children for Christmas and the other for Thanksgiving and so on.
5. How will the children spend time with other family members?
While a divorce is between you and your spouse, other members of the family will also be greatly affected by the changes that the end of your marriage will bring. If you’re co-parenting, you will need to make arrangements for your children to spend time with other family members such as their grandparents. For example, if Thanksgiving is a big family event for your ex’s family, would you consider having the children spend the holiday with them?
These are just a few things to consider when you decide to co-parent. It is important to discuss issues with your ex and find a solution that will work best for all of you.
Contact a Joliet divorce law firm for help!