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Co-Parenting Plans 101

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For couples that divorce with minor-aged children, the number of potentially contentious issues can multiply rapidly if they are not careful. Dealing with these parenting-related issues wisely could make a huge difference in the relative peacefulness of your divorce.

If you and your spouse set aside some time before you take it court to try and resolve some of these issues among yourselves, you may be saving money, time and the stress of court. No one is better equipped to make decisions about who gets custody, the visitation schedule and other parenting issues than you two. Read on for points to keep in mind to help you along in the planning of a workable, fair parenting plan.

1. Begin with issues that you and your spouse are more likely to agree upon. This can help set the stage for the more difficult to resolve issues later on. While the exact issues can vary depending upon you and your children, many parents find it easier to address vacation custody issues or school choices early on.

2. Don't make plans without carefully considering both of your schedules. The parent who is the best primary physical custodial of the child may also be the parent with a more flexible work schedule. Additionally, don't make plans and promises to spend certain hours or days with the child unless you are sure that you can fulfill those plans. Your plan will become an order signed by the judge, and over-scheduling yourself will only cause chaos in your child's life.

3. Keep it simple for the sake of your children. Complicated custodial plans that have the child shuttling back and forth from place to place, especially on school nights, could only pile more stress onto an already stressful situation. Staying in one place during the week and going elsewhere on the weekend might be better on your children.

4. Have back-up plans in place for emergencies, like a snow day or a sick kid. Provide the school with plenty of contacts to call on and have a list of reliable sitters for non-school days. Look to relatives, friends and neighbors for help and support.

5. If your children are very young, don't even think about asking them to make a very adult custody decision. While it's perfectly natural to take their wishes into account, children are not equipped to make important decisions about where they will live. Older children may have more input, but proceed with caution. They should never feel that are burdened with this adult problem.

6. It's important to be super-organized once your parenting plan kicks into gear, and there have never been more organizational tools available. Shared calendars and even special "divorce" apps lend assistance to busy families and help keep everyone on the same page.

Speak to a divorce attorney for more information about creating your own parenting plan.