The Office of the Attorney General of Texas recommends co-parenting after a divorce to promote healthy relationships between the child and both parents. This strategy is also referred to as shared parenting and defined as "when both parents work together as a team to raise their children, even after the marriage or romantic relationship is over."
Most people do not know how to work together with someone with whom they have had so much conflict, but you can learn new communication skills. The more specific your parenting plan is, the less conflict there will be once it is approved by the court.
When you are creating a parenting plan, you ought to include these elements:
- Scheduling parenting timeon a normal week.
- Parenting time during holidays, vacations, birthdays, etc.
- How you will decide to make changes to the parenting plan, as the kids get older and have different needs.
- What happens if there is future conflict, whether you will go to counseling, mediation or to court.
- Who makes day-to-day decisions for the kids, and who makes important decisions.
- How to handle the financial and medical support.
- Where exchanges will take place and how they will be managed.
- Contingencies if one parent has to move.
This might sound like a tall order, especially when emotions are running high. Most likely, you and the child’s other parent can agree on that you want what is best for your child, but you probably do not agree on how to get there. A mediator can be a valuable and cost-effective asset in creating a co-parenting plan, because he or she can help you and the other parent find common ground.
Your mediator brings both of you together and acts as an impartial moderator to figure out what you should do in the face of conflicts. With that help, you and the other parent can learn new skills and both be a good role model to your child.