On our latest episode of the Akiona Law Podcast, we were fortunate enough to have a second conversation with an established consultant, writer, and mentor Karen S. Bonnell. Because she is also a former divorce coach and mediator, she has an intimate understanding of what it takes to be a successful co-parent. One of the things we focused on during our talk was the importance of creating a parenting plan that fits your current and future needs.
Always Look Forward
When you are in the middle of a divorce—especially one that is messy and contested—the last thing you may want to think about is dating, and rightfully so. One of the things that Karen does with divorced parents is to inspire them to lift their heads up and look toward the horizon. Why? Because within 2-5 years, one or both of those parents will likely be in a new relationship. Additionally, their new partner may or may not have children.
That is why parents must possess the awareness that their parenting plan, in its original form, may not anticipate changes to include new spouses/partners and blended families. . By handling these issues now, you may avoid a lot of future strife, anger, and disappointment. For instance, what if your parenting plan says that the father gets the kids on Christmas Eve, and the mother gets them on Christmas? Then it flips the following year. Would that work if you and your spouse marry into new families? When you don’t plan for these contingencies, your children may be the ones that get hurt the most.
Build in Room for Flexibility
Instead of having the kids spend Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas with another, consider splitting the Christmas break in half (which is usually two weeks). If your new partner wants to travel to another state to visit their extended family for Christmas, you can do that.
If you aren’t planning on traveling that year and have the kids for Christmas, do you still have the ability to call your former spouse to see if they want the kids for Christmas dinner? Absolutely, because that is how great co-parents treat one another. Your parenting plan can be firm and still provide flexibility if you plan ahead for these issues as you are solving them before they surface. One of Karen’s excellent tips (of which there are many) is that you make the transition with the kids on December 26th-28th. Typically, there are 17 overnights on winter break. There is ample room for both parents to have extended time with the children. Although it may frighten you or your spouse that you won’t see your kids on Christmas, in the long runit may be the best solution for you and your new family.
Meet with a Family Law Attorney
At Akiona Law, PLLC, we handle a wide variety of family law matters that involve children. We will work with you to develop a parenting plan that is right for your family. Our compassionate and skilled staff is committed to helping you so that you can begin the next rewarding phase of your life. Contact us to schedule your consultation!