4 Things Smart Parents Do During a Divorce

Despite what we see on TV and in the movies, divorces don’t have to be an all-out war. Many couples find ways to settle their disagreements amicably. Many couples recognize how their behavior impacts their children. Many couples find ways to get through a divorce without tearing apart their children.

There are four main things smart parents do during a divorce.

1. Smart parents recognize and deal with the emotional impact divorce has on children. They educate themselves on children’s needs by attending classes, reading, and speaking with professionals. They learn ways to speak with their children about spending time with both parents, living in separate households, and legal issues. Smart parents also encourage their children to educate themselves and speak with professionals about their feelings and confusion.

2. Smart parents commit to putting their children’s needs first. Smart parents decide to drop the win-lose mentality and their selfish needs when they are in disagreement; rather, they focus on determining the best decision for the children. Smart parents agree not to argue or fight in the children’s presence. They do not bad-mouth the other parent. Right from the beginning, they agree upon a method for communicating and decision-making.

3. Smart parents encourage and assist in creating a loving, strong relationship between the children and the other parent. They encourage additional time together on top of the visitation schedule. They communicate about activities, happenings, and other special events. Smart parents even make sure they invite the other parent to participate in and attend the children’s activities.

4. Smart parents find alternative methods to settle their disputes. They use the services of a family therapist to understand the other parent’s point of view and break through the disagreements. Within the court setting, they take advantage of informal settlement conferences, case management conferences, and mediation. Smart parents know effective use of these options reduces the anger and hostility, lowers the expenses, and leads to better decisions for the children.

4.5 Smart parents persevere and don’t get frustrated … even when the other parent is being unreasonable and a complete jerk!

2.5 Reasons Parenting Plans are Important

What is a Parenting Plan?

Florida Statutes now require all divorce cases to include Parenting Plans. The Parenting Plan explains in detail how the parents will exchange the children, when the exchanges will occur, and on which days. The Parenting Plan also discusses what will happen during summer vacations and holidays. Furthermore, the Parenting Plan deals with the parents sharing important information, discussing important decisions, and establishing phone contact between the children and both parents.

Parenting Plans provide both parents:
1. a structure for decision-making,
2. a method for future changes, and
2.5 a clear understanding of their agreement.

1. A Reliable Structure

Even in the best circumstances, there will be times, especially years down the road, when you simply don’t remember things you agreed upon. Furthermore, there will be times you informally changed your agreement because it seemed more practical to do so at that time. Then either you or your former spouse will want to make another change, and you find you are unable to come to an agreement. It is during those times of disagreement or forgetfulness you will benefit from a written document that tells you what you are supposed to do. Your agreement is your safety net when you’re not sure, or don’t agree, how to handle a new situation.

2. Life’s Changes

Aging is inevitable, and with aging comes changes in each person’s life. The plan that worked when the children were eight no longer fits into their teenage lifestyle and activities. When one parent remarries, their responsibilities increase and their time diminishes. Changes in jobs and careers impact available time for the children and impact location and time for exchanges.

These things will happen in your life as you get older, and a good Parenting Plan will provide a method and necessary flexibility to make changes to your agreement. Some Parenting Plans will even forecast specific changes and provide the exact way for you to handle them.

2.5 A Clear Understanding

Over time, it’s not unusual to forget what you agreed to. When those times arise, and you are in dispute how to handle something, you can pull out the Parenting Plan to be your guide in black and white. No guessing required.