Some couples choose to co-parent their children after a divorce, sharing responsibilities and working together for the benefit of their kids. No one ever said parenting was easy, and if you’re not on the same page as your co-parent, things can quickly turn chaotic. Working together to create a successful co-parenting agreement can really help both co-parents get on the same page.
The good news is that there’s hope and with a co-parenting agreement in place, you can avoid many of the potential conflicts that come up when raising a child together.
If you and your ex decide to co-parent, it’s important to create a co-parenting agreement that outlines everyone’s roles and responsibilities. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that conflicts are minimized. So, how do you create a co-parenting agreement?
11 Tips for Creating a Co-Parenting Agreement
This guide will outline what you may want to include in your agreement, and how to make sure it works for your family.
Be specific about parenting time
When parents decide to co-parent, it’s important that they outline specific parenting time guidelines in their agreement. This helps to avoid any confusion or conflict about when each parent is responsible for the kids. By being specific about parenting time, both parents can be sure that their children are getting the love and care they need.
Parenting time refers to the schedule by which each parent will take custody of the children. In some cases, one parent may be more engaged than the other when it comes to parenting. If this is the case, it’s important to spell out exactly what roles each parent will play. For example, if one parent typically does most of the driving and grocery shopping, they should continue to do so during their parenting time.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to parenting time; every family is different and will need different arrangements. However, there are some general tips that can help you create a parenting time schedule that works for everyone:
One of the most important things to remember when creating a parenting time schedule is to be flexible. Things will come up, and there will be times when one parent may need to take on more responsibility than usual. It’s important to be able to adjust the schedule as needed so that everyone can still get the care and support they need.
Consider the needs of the children
What works for you and your ex may not always work for your children, and it’s important to be mindful of their needs when making decisions about parenting time.
Communicate with your ex
It’s also important to communicate with your ex when creating a parenting time schedule. If you’re not on the same page, it will be difficult to make decisions that work for everyone. By talking things through and being on the same page, you can avoid many potential conflicts.
You’ll need to decide how often each parent will have the children, and what the schedule will look like.
The parenting schedule should be clearly laid out in the agreement, including who has custody on what days and how holidays will be rotated. It’s important to be as specific as possible to avoid confusion and conflict down the road.
If you have a flexible schedule, you may want to include some wiggle room in the agreement. For example, if one parent works odd hours or travels frequently, you may want to build in some flexibility to accommodate that.
Define responsibilities of each parent for day-to-day caretaking tasks
Be clear about which parent will be responsible for which tasks. For example, who will pick up the kids from school? Who will take them to soccer practice? Who will be responsible for homework and bedtime routines?
These are the types of tasks that can quickly become a point of contention if both parents are not on the same page. Be sure to include as much detail as possible in the agreement to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
Be clear about who makes decisions for the children
Another important thing to consider when creating a co-parenting agreement is how decisions will be made about the children. This includes things like education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.
In most cases, both parents should have a say in major decisions affecting the kids, but one parent may be designated as the primary decision-maker in case of disagreement.
It’s important to be clear about who will be responsible for making these decisions, big and small, and how they will be made. For example, will both parents need to agree on every decision? Or is there a certain hierarchy that needs to be followed?
There are a few different ways that parents can approach decision-making:
Both parents agree
In this case, both parents would need to agree on every decision that’s made about the children. This can be tricky, as it requires both parents to be on the same page at all times.
One parent makes the decisions
In this case, one parent would be responsible for making all of the decisions about the children. This can work well if one parent is more involved in the day-to-day parenting than the other.
A mix of both
In some cases, it may make sense for both parents to agree on some decisions, while others are made by just one parent. For example, both parents may need to agree on major life decisions like where the children will go to school, but one parent may handle day-to-day decisions like what they eat for dinner.
Keep communication open
It’s important to keep communication open when co-parenting. This means being willing to talk about both the good and the bad. It can be tempting to avoid conflict by only talking about positive things, but this can actually make things worse in the long run.
If something comes up that you’re not happy about, talk to your ex about it. It’s important to be respectful and understanding, but also honest about how you’re feeling. Only by communicating openly will you be able to resolve any issues that come up.
In some cases, it may be helpful to designate a third party to help facilitate communication, such as a therapist or mediator. This can be especially helpful if there is a lot of tension between the parents.
Be clear about communication expectations
You may want to establish some ground rules for communication between both parents. For example, you may want to agree on a method of communication, such as text, email, or phone call. You may also want to set up a regular time to touch base, such as weekly or monthly.
Address how you will handle disagreements
No matter how well you get along with your ex, there will inevitably be times when you don’t see eye to eye on something. It’s important to have a plan in place for how you will handle those disagreements.
Will you sit down and discuss it calmly? Will you go to mediation? Or will you just agree to disagree? Whatever route you decide to take, be sure to include it in the agreement.
Make sure the agreement is realistic
It’s important to make sure that the agreement you create is realistic and achievable for both parents. If it’s not, it’s likely that one or both parents will end up feeling resentment or frustration.
Be sure to take into account each parent’s schedule, job, and other commitments when creating the agreement. It should also be flexible enough to accommodate changes down the road, such as a new job or a move.
Include a clause about modifying the agreement
Life changes, and so do circumstances. It’s important to include a clause that outlines how the agreement can be modified in the future should the need arise.
This can be as simple as stating that any modifications must be agreed upon by both parents, or that the agreement can be modified by a mediator or lawyer if necessary.
Be respectful of each other’s time
It’s also important to be respectful of each other’s time when co-parenting. This means not only being respectful of the time that each parent spends with the children but also the time that each parent spends on their own.
Each parent should have some time to themselves, whether it’s to work, spend time with friends, or just relax. It’s important to respect this time and not try to interfere with it.
Get input from your children
While it’s ultimately up to the parents to create the agreement, it can be helpful to get input from your children as well. After all, they’re the ones who will be living with the agreement.
Ask them how they feel about the different custody arrangements you’re considering. Find out what works and what doesn’t work for them. And try to accommodate their needs as much as possible.
Don’t forget to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer
Once you’ve created the agreement, it’s important to have it reviewed by a lawyer to make sure it’s legally binding. This is especially important if you have any concerns about enforcing the agreement in court.
A lawyer can also help you make sure that the agreement is fair and equitable for both parents.
Creating a co-parenting agreement can help you and your ex navigate the challenges of co-parenting and provide a framework for making decisions about your child’s upbringing. With a little planning and some flexibility, you can create an agreement that works for your family.