When you and your former spouse sat down to make a co-parenting schedule that worked for both of you, your child's life was quite a bit simpler. Now, though, there are after-school activities and social events that make your current parenting plan obsolete.
The good news is that modification does not have to be a big deal. Whether you used mediation during your divorce or not, it is an option for you now.
Discuss your teen’s needs with your teen
Although ultimately the responsibility for the new schedule belongs to you and the other parent, your teen needs to be able to contribute. If you decide not to bring him or her to the mediation session, you should still get input about schedule preferences ahead of time so that these can be the starting point. The information you bring with you should include the following:
- How to balance peer and parent relationships so that neither suffer
- When parents should be flexible
- Which elements of the schedule parents are not willing to compromise on
While you may want to allow your teen more discretion on free time, you and the other parent may each want to designate a block of time in your own portion of the schedule for a family or one-on-one activity. This way, you are getting quality time, even if the quantity you each enjoy is considerably less.
Ensure open communication with the other parent
Maybe after your divorce, the agreed-upon schedule allowed you and your former spouse to co-parent with a minimum of contact. With your new focus on your teen’s schedule, you may need to communicate more frequently. Even though you are both willing to be flexible, your new roles may require quite a bit more give and take. Decide ahead of time how you will handle the discussions with the goal of reducing potential for conflict in these situations.
By choosing mediation, you, your teen and the other parent can work out the schedule based on what the three of you need without a battle, and without getting a judge or attorneys involved.