Setting Agendas for Your Kids with Visitation and Co-parenting
When you’re embarking on a separation or divorce, one of the most emotional parts of the process can be creating visitation schedules and co-parenting arrangements. But it doesn’t have to be acrimonious. If you and your partner commit to a gentler approach, you can make visitation and scheduling easier for all of you. Whether you have younger children, teens, or a mix of ages, those kids will come with school schedules, doctor and dentist appointments, after-school activities, sports, playdates, and parties. Everything on your child’s schedule may be important to their development, social and emotional growth, and physical and mental well-being. By working together and communicating, you and your co-parent can keep your homes stable for your kids and help their transitions along the way.
Creating Visitation Schedules
If you’re doing the scheduling, it may be easier just to consider your own schedule while setting up your kids’ calendars, but it’s important to communicate with your co-parent. On the other side, it’s tempting to react to activities during your parenting time defensively. Some attorneys will even encourage this, claiming it’s an encroachment on your parenting time. Just try to remember that you can take a softer approach. Social, school, and athletic activities may be a big part of your child’s life, even when it’s not your visitation time.
Keeping your child from social events, sports, and other activities they love won’t improve your parent-child relationship in the long term and it may complicate your relationship with your co-parent. Let your children see you and your co-parent working out your differences, coming up with solutions and compromising. Communication, flexibility, and planning can be the key to successfully co-parenting through your kids’ active lives.
Communicate with Your Co-parent & Be Flexible
Staying in touch with your co-parent about upcoming events that are important to you and your child can avoid misunderstandings and scheduling conflicts. But when something inevitably comes up, try to stay flexible. If you wanted to take your kids to Six Flags for the weekend, but your daughter’s soccer team made the championships, roll with it. When you tell your co-parent you’d like to take the kids to see your parents for the week before school starts, and your co-parent tells you your son’s marching band had band camp that week, be flexible. Communicating with your co-parent about scheduling conflicts may be easier if you assume the best. If it’s important to your child, it should be important to you.
Along with remaining flexible, planning well in advance can help avoid scheduling conflicts. If you have a special trip you’d like to take, let your co-parent know well in advance. If you want to get tickets for a special event, talk to your co-parent first. Planning can help both of you balance your priorities and your kids’ activities.
A shared calendar or scheduling app may be a good solution to keep both of you on the same page as well. Some of the most popular co-parenting calendars include:
- WeParent: This app contains calendar and scheduling functions and messaging, documents, a custody schedule, and expenses.
- Cozi: While the Cozi creators didn’t create the app for co-parenting, it is a popular app for busy families. You can set up shared calendars, to-do lists and share photos and recipes easily.
- Google Calendar: Like Cozi, Google didn’t have divorced parents in mind, but Google allows shared calendars, lists, and you can limit who may add or change events on the calendar. It also seamlessly syncs across your computer, phone, or other mobile devices.
- Our Family Wizard: Created by a divorced couple, this app gives each parent their account and allows users to create as many family or professional accounts as needed. Our Family Wizard also has an optional “tone meter,” which suggests changing negative tones in messages, avoiding arguments. The app also logs all communication, creating an official record for the court if needed.
- Coparently: Coparently allows co-parents to schedule, communicate, track expenses, share and update contact materials and other important information. You can also add older children to the account to allow them to schedule and make requests.
- Custody Connection: This app allows parents to track a synchronized custody schedule and make swap requests if they want to trade dates. The app then records whether the parent accepts or denies the request and automatically updates the schedule.
We Can Help!
Divorce is never easy, but communication and flexibility can go a long way toward making co-parenting less painful. If you and your partner are contemplating a separation or a divorce, but you’d like to take a more cooperative, gentle approach, we can help. Give my team a call and set up your consultation today.