One of the most difficult elements of divorce is creating a child custody schedule that works for the children and is sustainable by the parents. Trying to coordinate several schedules can be stressful and add additional strain during an already overwhelming time.
An experienced attorney can guide you through the details of creating a custody schedule that will be approved by the court, but here are just a few tips to keep in mind so that the schedule will meet the needs of the entire family.
Make your child's activities and interests a priority - Go into the schedule planning knowing what activities your child is involved with or interested in, and make it a priority to adapt the schedule to fit these. Your child will need these activities during this difficult transition to help cope with the change, and continuing to participate in these activities will maintain a sense of normality for your child.
Be willing to compromise - Even though your marriage didn't work out, your spouse is likely still a good parent. And your child needs him or her to be the best parent possible for years to come. Accommodating some of your spouse's scheduling requests and compromising to create a schedule that is bearable for your spouse eases some of the stress and allows your spouse space to grow and heal. This is an indirect investment in your child's wellbeing - as well as your future relationship as co-parents.
Stick up for yourself - The converse is true: you also need time, space and a doable custody schedule so that you can be the best parent possible. Compromise does not mean letting your spouse domineer the situation and create unrealistic expectations for you going forward. Be honest about your needs and your schedule.
Take holidays, vacations and school breaks into consideration up front - Proactively plan for what these times will look like with your family's new structure. Have open dialog with your spouse about which holidays are most important to you and free time you would like to have with the children. Communicate, communicate, communicate, for the sake of your children - and your own sanity.
Throughout the process, make sure that your child feels like his or her opinion is being heard and taken into consideration. Also make sure that you have created a method of communication with your spouse that will ease the difficult of coparenting for years to come.