How do you create a parenting plan with someone you no longer want to be around? In divorce mediation, we often start figuring out the divorce agreement by creating a parenting plan. After all, the amount of time the children spend with each parent influences other financial decisions, including spousal support, child support, and what to do with the house. is one of those things where the best way is not necessarily the least or most expensive.
During the mediation process,we often see two parenting problems. In one scenario, parents are being unrealistically optimistic - trying to devise a parenting plan that doesn't reflect their current relationship with their children or their schedule. For example, sometimes a parent who was less involved in their child's life wants 50/50 parenting. Such a change is fine, as long as it is attainable. Otherwise, they are simply setting themselves up to disappoint their children and irritate their ex-spouse. In other cases, the parents are using the children as pawns in their own arguments, refusing to agree to parenting plans because they are angry with their spouse, and they don't want to give an inch on anything. While the issues are slightly different, the problems in these two scenarios are the same - the parents' focus is not on the best interest of the children.
For a parenting plan to work, the parents must focus on the children's needs. Children can adapt to new schedules. They fare best in an environment where they spend some time with each parent and have clear routines. They suffer most when they live in the midst of conflict - including feuding parents. In divorce mediation, we work with the parents to keep them focused on their children's interests and help them develop a plan that works for the whole family.