Gary Greenwald and Partners P.C.
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Will your divorce arrangements include a good parenting plan?

It might surprise you to learn how often divorcing couples fail to put a plan in place to help their children adjust to the family breakup. Divorce brings about monumental change, no matter the age of a child. It may trigger an aggressive response in adolescents, and they may start to become more independent. Young children, on the other hand, may feel considerable fear and anxiety if a safe, secure family unit in which both parents were present is all they have ever known. If you have decided to end your marriage, the welfare of your children going forward should be your top priority, and you are going to need a plan.

The plan as a safety net

The idea is to organize parenting responsibilities between you and your former spouse so that children will experience consistency and continuity in what might otherwise be a very stressful and chaotic time. Establish a schedule that works for everyone and keep to as much of a routine as you can so that children know what to expect as well as what you expect of them. As everyone settles in, a sense of security will resurface: It is vitally important that the children understand both parents will still love and care for them no matter what.

The elements of a good parenting plan

In addition to creating a workable routine and viable schedules, develop a plan for financial responsibilities, for sharing information and for dealing with disagreements that surface. Communication is often problematic, so remember you can communicate with the other parent by phone or email. Unless an emergency situation arises, you do not need to meet face to face if that is too uncomfortable.

Helping children adjust to two households

In addition to the physical aspects, such as allowing children to have their own space, favorite toys and activities at the new household, you must also address the emotional and psychological issues they face due to living between two homes. For example, rules should be consistent in both households, and positive discussion should always be encouraged. Children will test boundaries, but if you have a good structure in place, they will find it easier to settle into a comfortable routine. Do not overdo the fun stuff. Be yourself and do ordinary things with your children, just as you always have.

Seeking support

Committing to a well-thought-out parenting plan will help children over the rough spots caused by your divorce, but there might be some sticking points in trying to put the plan together. For one thing, you may have a less than amicable relationship with your ex, and the divorce experience itself may have left you and your children with problems you never expected. Remember you do not have to do this alone. An attorney experienced with family law can help you devise a parenting plan that will prove workable for everyone involved.

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