Family courts are encouraging both parents to be involved in the children’s lives after a divorce. In fact, the legislature is considering changes to the way child custody is determined in Michigan. Instead of assuming that the mother is the primary caregiver, judges would have to start a case by assuming both parents would have joint custody rights. Research shows that children who have both parents involved do better in school, have higher self-esteem and are more emotionally stable.
Although the court can implement a custody plan for your post-divorce family, it is typically better for the parents to work out this plan together. Even though emotions might be high, by focusing on the needs of the children, two parents can come together and find the best way for the children to maintain relationships with each of them. One thing that most parents agree on is that they do want what is best for the children.
Creating a co-parenting plan depends on the needs and ages of the children. There is no one-size-fits-all. You do need to address key issues, such as health care, school schedules, vacation schedules and parent’s work schedules. Specificity is key because this document will provide resources when conflict arises. Parents do not need to agree on every aspect of the children’s lives, but there should be some consistency between households for the children’s security and stability.
Remember that joint custody is not 50-50 time split, but it is about making sure the child has access to each parent. Co-parenting requires flexibility and communication, which might be difficult to consider when you are in the middle of a divorce. This is possible when you focus on what is best for the children. It might be good to work with a mediator when creating your parenting plan, as well as your own divorce attorney. You can learn better negotiation skills and be a good role model to your children.