Ask any parent in Arkansas who has gone through the dissolution of a marriage to describe their experience, and they’ll likely tell you how stressful and overwhelming the ordeal was. When you go through a divorce as a parent, you’re not only ending a long-term relationship, you also have to go through the process of determining support as well as a suitable child custody arrangement. These days, many divorced parents choose to co-parent through a joint child custody arrangement.
One main aspect of your joint custody arrangement is how you and your co-parent will divide time with your children. It’s safe to say you both want to spend as much time as possible with the kids. This is why it’s important to create a parenting or custody schedule that will maximize the time each parent has with your children while also reducing the chances of conflict and/or confusion about visitation times. Here are some factors to consider when you and your co-parent create your future parenting or visitation schedules.
Ages of the children
The age of your children is one of the main factors to take into consideration when you make your parenting schedule. If you have infants or toddlers, they may need more frequent transitions so that they can maintain a solid relationship with both of you. For young kids, consistency is more important, as younger children typically do better with a stable routine. However, teenagers usually have more going on outside the home, such as schoolwork or extracurricular activities. So, teens may need a schedule that allows them to stay with one parent for a longer period of time to minimize disruption.
The co-parent relationship
Successful co-parenting is all about cooperation. If you and your co-parent are willing to work together and cooperate, you will be able to make nearly any schedule work. However, if one parent is being difficult or uncooperative, you may need a parenting schedule with boundaries or some specificity. For example, establishing a neutral place for parental transitions, like an extracurricular activity or the school, so you won’t have to meet your co-parent in person.
Flexibility and commitment
Successful co-parenting will require you to be fully committed and also very flexible. Think about your daily schedules. Do you or your co-parent travel for work or have an unpredictable schedule? Both parents will need to be flexible to accommodate their schedules as well as unanticipated issues that may arise. Even if the other parent’s schedule causes an inconvenience, remain committed to making this work for the kids.
There is help available
Always remember to keep the children as the top priority no matter what happens between you and the other parent. Leave the past in the past and agree to move forward to give the children the best possible upbringing. It goes without saying that there will be problems and disagreements at some point along the way. You only want the best for your children, so when child custody disputes arise, there are resources readily available to help you through this situation.