Bruce C. Zivley, Attorney at Law

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A good co-parenting plan helps children adjust to divorce

How children will adapt to life after divorce is a big consideration for all parents. You want your children to be happy, well-adjusted and able to move forward with confidence. However, that is a big order when the family breakup is still fresh.

Your divorce may have been contentious, but no matter how poorly you and your ex get along, you have to put your hostility aside long enough to develop—and follow—a good co-parenting plan.

Consider what children need

Remember that children need quality time with both parents, so the divorce agreement should give the non-custodial parent sufficient visitation time. Include grandparents and extended family; they should be able to enjoy time with the children, just as they always have. Ensure that there is time for activities and for visiting with friends. There will be moments when the kids express frustration or anger about the divorce, and you will probably have to reassure them of your love and support many times over.

Elements for success

Your co-parenting plan should present an outline for financial responsibilities, explain who makes which decisions and describe how to handle vacations and holidays. The plan should include a method for information sharing and a way to manage any disagreements that arise. It should set day-to-day responsibilities: who is in charge of taking a child to soccer practice or to a dental appointment, and who stays home with a child who is sick.

Reaching out for help

Experts say that you should try to see a co-parenting plan from a child’s point of view, which will give you a whole new perspective on the issues. For most family members, the post-divorce era is a very emotional time. All that anyone can ask is that you try your best to help your children cope with it. When you are unsure of how to do so, reach out for legal advice or other professional assistance.

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