As if juggling a child's busy schedule with ballgames, play auditions, church functions, birthday parties and other activities of your little social butterfly were not enough, adding a co-parenting timesharing schedule into the mix makes it even tougher. The timesharing schedule may be one that is negotiated through settlement discussions with the other party, reached at mediation or it may be ordered by the Court. Regardless of how your timesharing schedule is determined, there are some very fundamental and key points that you need to keep in mind.
1. Keep It Simple
I have had cases where parents are bouncing the child back and forth night to night or during the day. The dad gets every third leap day and the mom gets each evening where Jupiter aligns with Mars. UGH! Of course, I am exaggerating to make a point, but it is a valid point nonetheless. Obviously, you and the other parent have some difficulty getting along otherwise, you would probably still be together. Therefore, avoid as many misunderstandings or opportunities for argument as possible by keeping your schedule as simple and easy to understand as possible.
Keeping the schedule as simple as possible will also help provide your child some stability. Children can often adapt better if they understand and follow a routine. They can quickly learn "Monday is a mommy day;" or "I was with mom last weekend so I will be at dad's this weekend."
2. Help the Children Understand
Like I said oftentimes knowing what to expect can put children's minds at ease in a co-parenting situation. Help your child understand the timesharing schedule. Make it available to your child in a way that is easy to understand. Perhaps a printed calendar posted on the refrigerator or a dry erase board. For older, more tech-savvy children, set up an online calendar with the days marked. This is actually very easy to do with many of the online calendars because you can program in repeating events. There are also a number of apps available in the iTunes and Google Play stores specifically for family scheduling.
3. Do Not Forget Holidays and Important Family Events
Most standard visitation schedules promulgated by the Courts have many of the big holidays spelled out. This is often a good place to start if you are trying to develop your own parenting schedule. Also, if your family has a big family reunion or other special event each year, you should factor that into the schedule. Some other things that may come up are birthdays, family events such as weddings or funerals. It is a good idea to also review your child's school calendar to determine when there are long weekends or breaks for you and the other parent to consider.
4. Get It Documented
You and your co-parent or ex-spouse may be getting along beautifully, and that is wonderful. However, you need to prepare for the day when you may not agree on things. In that case, you had better have your timesharing plan well-documented and filed with the Court. If it is not documented, who is to say who gets what time? If it is not on file with the Court and adopted as part of a custody order or divorce decree, the Court cannot enforce it with the Court's contempt powers.
This also applies if at some point you and your ex change the timesharing schedule. Sometimes it evolves over time. Sometimes you have to change as a result of changed circumstances like when the child starts school. Whatever the reason, get it documented and make sure the Court file reflects what is happening with you, your ex and your child.
Getting everyone on board with your timesharing schedule and keeping everyone properly informed will go a long way to making your life as a co-parent much, much smoother.
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Photo courtesy of Dafne Cholet
Labels: coparenting, custody, divorce, holidays, kentucky, paducah, schedule, timesharing, visitation