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Co-Parenting for Divorced Dads

Child custody agreements for divorced fathers

Creating a Parenting Agreement That Works for Your Family

If your marriage has broken down, and you're getting a divorce, you probably want to have as little to do with your ex-spouse as possible. Even if your divorce was a fairly smooth and amicable experience, seeing your ex or being around her can bring up many bad memories and negative emotions, and you would most likely prefer to move on with your life and leave the mistakes of your marriage in the past. Unfortunately, when you share children with your ex, you don't really have this option. Because you will always be the parents of your children, the two of you will need to maintain a relationship with each other for years to come, and potentially even the rest of your lives. However, you can help make this relationship as functional and conflict-free as possible by agreeing to work together as co-parents of your children.

Benefits of Co-Parenting

Regardless of the level of conflict between you and your ex during your divorce, you'll want to lay the groundwork for how the two of you will continue to work together to raise your children. By focusing on what's best for your kids, you can agree to cooperate when making decisions, follow similar rules and routines at each of your homes, be flexible, and treat each other with respect.

Agreeing to work together as co-parents can be very beneficial for your children, since it will give them a sense of consistency in their lives. Knowing that they have two parents who love them and will always be there for them can help them adjust to their new situation while improving their self-esteem. By cooperating with each other, you can set a good example for your kids to follow in their own relationships.

Creating a Parenting Agreement

One of the most important things you can do as co-parents is to create a parenting plan or joint custody agreement that meets your family's needs. This agreement will be a legal document that will be incorporated into your divorce decree, and this means that you will both be required by law to follow its terms. Your parenting plan will fully outline all of the decisions made regarding child custody and visitation, including how you will share in making decisions for your children and the schedule for when they will spend time with each of you.

However, your parenting agreement can contain more than just the minimum legal requirements. You can also include a wide variety of other terms that will define how the two of you will cooperate as co-parents, including:

  • Transportation - You can make sure you both understand how children will be transported between your homes at the beginning and end of a parent's parenting time. For example, one parent may always drop off the kids at the other parent's home, or you could agree to meet at a halfway point.
  • Rules for discipline - You can specify what forms of discipline are or are not acceptable, as well as whether you will notify each other about discipline for children to ensure that they are treated the same at each home.
  • Children's schedules - To maintain consistency, you can agree on children's bedtimes or curfews, when they will eat meals, or when they should work on homework when at each parent's home.
  • Rules for communication - You can decide when and how you will inform each other about events or activities children are participating in, as well as any relevant information related to their education or medical needs.
  • Right of first refusal - You may want to add language stating that if a parent will be unable to care for children during their scheduled parenting time, the other parent will be given the opportunity to have the children stay with them.
  • Extended family members - If you want to make sure grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or other relatives will remain an important part of children's lives, you can include rules about when and how children will see them or speak to them.

When creating your parenting agreement, you should work with a family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and identify any gaps or issues that could lead to problems in the future. With a solid parenting plan in place that you can both agree on, you can be prepared for success in the years to come.

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