The separation of parents can be one of the biggest changes children will go through and it can be difficult to process at a young age. Creating a game plan for how you and your spouse will navigate parenting responsibilities can help to create a positive and stable environment for your children.

How can a co-parenting agreement help?

When you and your spouse sit down and have a conversation about parenting, you can create a clear plan for success in your new situation. Depending on your relationship, this can be in private and between just the two of you, or you can use a lawyer or mediator to help you through it.

No matter how it comes about, taking the time to put your co-parenting agreement in writing can help lessen tensions, ease the navigation of daily life and prioritizes the well-being of your children.

What should you put in your co-parenting agreement?

What you and your spouse decide to put in your agreement is going to be unique to your situation, but here are some things to consider:

  • Schedules – Go over custody and visitation plans, including specifics on when each party is taking care of the children and plans for transportation.
  • Holidays and birthdays– Discuss how you will celebrate holidays and birthdays, where the kids will spend them and any guidelines you want to set on gifts.
  • Daily rules– Make sure both parties are clear on the basic rules you set for your children so that they are consistent between the two households. This can include bedtimes, screen time, discipline and diets.
  • Dating – Though it can be uncomfortable, you should talk about how you want to set boundaries concerning your dating lives and your kids.
  • Religion and education – Get clarity on your expectations for religious and educational institutions both you as individuals and as a family are involved in. If one party attends church and the other does not talk about how your kids will be involved and how you can respect one another’s beliefs. Discuss your opinions on your children’s education and your priorities.
  • Emergency plans – If something happens involving your kids, like needing to go to the hospital, you will want to have a plan in place for how you will deal with it together.
  • Communication strategies – Make communication expectations clear, like giving a week’s notice if you need to change the schedule.
  • Talking about your spouse – Create guidelines for the language you use around your children when it comes to your spouse. Talking negatively, fighting in front of the kids or expressing frustration with one another to your kids could be detrimental.
  • Prioritizing the kids – While it can be easy to get wrapped up in emotions and frustrations, be sure you both understand that the well being of your kids is the top priority. Remember that sticking to the plan will ultimately benefit your children.

A parenting plan can be hugely helpful in not only avoiding future conflicts but creating healthy relationships and support stability for your children.