When you and your child’s other parent decide to separate or divorce, you will need to form a parenting plan that allocates how parenting time will be split between the two of you. While you may have a specific vision regarding what a parenting arrangement will look like, it is important to remember that your (ex-)spouse may have something very different in mind. Ideally, you and your child’s other parent will be able to reach an agreement without going to court. Here are some tips to help you form a parenting time arrangement that all parties can live with–
1. Be Specific in What You Want
It is important to know exactly what you want from a parenting time arrangement and to be vocal about this. Specifying what you want does not mean you’re unwilling to compromise, though; rather, it means that you are being straightforward and honest in your desires. If there are things that you feel that you cannot compromise on, such as having your child on their birthday or Mother’s Day, write this down and keep it in mind as you negotiate the arrangement.
2. Listen to the Other Party
It can be easy to villainize your child’s other parent, especially if your relationship ended badly. However, remember that the other party loves your child just as much as you do, and this is about your child, not your personal feelings towards the other parent. Listen to the other party and be willing to hear what they want out of a parenting arrangement. Being able to empathize is one of the best characteristics when it comes to negotiating a parenting plan.
It can be hard to give up something that you want; getting something you want in return can make it less difficult. As you negotiate your parenting plan, remember that it’s about compromise and that both parties should be able to get some of the things that they want.
4. Put Your Child First
You may want your child to live with you, but does it really make sense based on where they are going to school, or where their best friends live? As you negotiate your parenting plan, make sure you always consider your child’s best interests first. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by your own desires, making it more about you than your child.
5. Put Past Disputes Aside and Be Kind
The Golden Rule really can be effective. As you and your child’s other parent work together to create a parenting plan, agree to put past personal disputes between the two of you aside, and commit to being kind and civil throughout the process. Remember, “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”
6. Work with an Experienced Lawyer
Even if you and your (ex-)spouse are on the best of terms, it is still wise to work with an attorney who can review your parenting plan and provide you with legal advice along the way. A lawyer is especially necessary in the event that you and your child’s other parent cannot form a parenting plan outside of court.
At the offices of Keller Legal Services, we have experience representing parents like you. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Illinois family law attorneys by sending us a message today.