Divorcing parents sometimes don’t realize that they are not required to request a formal court order for child custody. If the parents can cooperate, they can create their own custody arrangement that allows for much more flexibility and takes the child’s unique needs into account. Here’s how you can successfully create an informal child custody schedule and parenting plan with your ex.
Prioritize What Is Best for Your Child
Parenting isn’t always convenient. You must coordinate your schedule with your child’s needs, and this can lead to you missing out on events or needing to cut your work hours short. This is simply a fact of life when it comes to parenting, so don’t think you will escape all of these inconveniences just because you are now co-parenting with your ex.
When you are coming up with a custody schedule for your child, try to prioritize their scheduling needs over your own. You will have time later on to figure out how to make things work together. However, if you prioritize your own needs when creating your parenting schedule, you may willingly lose out on time with your child – a decision you will come to regret.
Create A Parenting Plan
A parenting plan goes beyond who has custody of the child and when. It dictates how the child will be raised, and it gives the parents a chance to discuss their parenting styles and opinions formally to minimize issues down the road. Parenting requires a lot of decision-making, from whether to let your child have sleepovers with friends to how you would like to handle medical concerns.
If you are already cooperative with your co-parent, which is likely the case if you are creating your own custody agreement, it is immensely beneficial to discuss how you would like to handle some of these big decisions so that neither of you have to make them on your own. Your parenting plan can include anything you deem necessary to maximize your child’s well-being, safety, and relationship with both parents.
Submit Your Agreement to the Court
Even if you would like to create your own child custody schedule with your spouse, I recommend that you submit it to the courts to make it official. Informal custody agreements are not enforceable, which could lead to serious issues if one parent decides to change things up without the other’s permission. For example, if your ex decides she wants to take the kids on vacation without asking, you will not have protection with an informal agreement. However, if you have submitted your custody plan to a judge, you do have recourse when your spouse takes your children without permission.