The Top 5 Things Parents Should Consider When Negotiating A Parenting Plan

 Dori Shwirtz
March 10, 2021

The Top 5 Things Parents Should Consider When Negotiating A Parenting Plan

Dori Shwirtz

One of the most rewarding things about being a divorce mediator is assisting families in tailoring their own unique parenting plans that help ensure their success down the road. A parenting plan is really a roadmap for the divorced parents in how to remain harmonious co-parents in providing for the needs of their mutual children. When parents are empowered to work together in creating an arrangement that puts the priorities of their children first, everyone is a winner. 

There are some important things to consider when going into a negotiation to come up with the terms of your parenting plan. Generally, if you follow these 5 steps you will be on the road to a successful co-parenting journey.

  1. It’s Fluid. Anyone who’s a parent will tell you that the time with your kids is fleeting. They grow up so quickly and in that time their needs change rapidly. For this reason, it’s vital to keep this in mind when negotiating a parenting plan. The needs of a 2-year-old are quite different then a 16-year-old. Don’t create a plan for a baby and have that plan stuck in time. Provide for the development of your children that will inevitably occur down the road.
  1. Keep It About the Kids. Keep a mindset of bringing it back to the kids. No matter what occurred between you and your ex as a couple, strive to remember that you have a vital mutual interest in providing for the best interests of your Children. Come from that place when beginning negotiations. Studies have shown that kids of divorce whose parents have a working co-parenting relationship have better emotional and physical health, higher academic achievement and greater self-esteem. What parent wouldn’t do whatever they could do ensure those things for their child?
  1. Go in Ready to Compromise. Compromises are necessary in order to create a plan that puts the needs of your children first. It’s not about who can manage to get the most time with the child or who gets to make all the important decisions. Nobody is the “winner”. Both sides should strive to really listen to their co-parent and work together in formulating what works best for your kids.
  1. Do Your Research. Before entering negotiations, parents should do their research on several topics to familiarize themselves with the process and what is involved in devising a parenting plan. Important topics that will be covered include: time sharing schedules, parental responsibility and modes of communication with each other and their children. Come prepared and ready to design a customized plan that will fit the unique needs of your family unit.
  1. You’re Not Chained to the Plan. Creating a plan for the most precious people in your entire world sounds extremely stressful. You want to get it just right and not “mess them up”. But it’s very helpful to realize that if you have a successful co-parenting relationship that you don’t necessarily have to be bound to the plan. So, every single word in the plan doesn’t have to be just right. For example, if it’s your weekend but your ex-wife has a family wedding on that Sunday you both can agree that the kids will go with her even though it says in the plan that it’s your day. Having this information can make the negotiating process much less taxing.

Hopefully, by following these 5 tips creating a parenting plan can be a rewarding experience in which the parents feel empowered that they are crafting a stable and successful future for their children. It’s really quite an individual process because every couple and every family have unique needs. The plan can be as detailed or as general as you wish but it’s important to have a seasoned mediator by your side to ensure that everything that needs to be covered is. If you start off on the right footing during parenting plan negotiations, those plans are usually followed in good faith and is the start of a truly healthy co-parenting relationship and most importantly happy, healthy children.

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