For some spouses, getting divorced does not necessarily mean ending their relationship. This is especially true for parents of minor children, who must necessarily maintain at least some level of contact after ending their marriage. However, with increasing frequency, parents seek to remain jointly involved in their children’s lives post-divorce. While they may not want to live together, they still have an interest in maintaining a cohesive family unit. They want to provide as much stability for their children as possible.
In this type of scenario, co-parenting can be a good option. With co-parenting, both parents continue to share much of the time they spend with their children. While the parents live separately (and address all of the other various issues involved with getting a divorce in Arizona), they jointly participate in child-related activities. They work together to make important decisions. They will often even spend holidays and vacations together well. Divorcing spouses who wish to co-parent have a significant amount of flexibility with regard to how they structure their post-divorce relationship—as long as they make all decisions with their children’s best interests in mind.
What Are Some Important Questions to Ask (and Answer) When Considering Coparenting After Your Divorce?
If you think that co-parenting might be right for your family, what are some of the key considerations you will need to address to prepare for your post-divorce life? Here is a list of 10 critical questions divorcing parents must answer to prepare an effective co-parenting agreement:
1. Whose House Will Serve as Your Children’s “Home Base”?
Even if your children spend roughly equal amounts of time at both parents’ houses, one house should still be designated as your children’s “home base.” Essentially, this is the home at which your children will be able to find most of their stuff most of the time. However, in addition to serving certain practical functions, designating a “home base” can provide an important sense of stability for your children as well.
2. How Will You Divide Solo Parenting Time?
Even though you and your spouse will be spending a significant amount of time together with your children, you will both still have solo parenting time as well. During the divorce process, you and your spouse will need to develop a parenting schedule that determines which nights of the week your children spend at each parent’s home.
3. What Rules Will You Both Enforce at Home?
With co-parenting, consistency is key. As a result, as you go through the divorce process, you will want to work with your spouse to develop rules that you will adopt and enforce in your respective homes. In this regard, divorcing spouses who wish to co-parent will typically address issues such as:
- Cell phone use
- Screen time
- Curfews and bedtime
- Friend visits
- Sweets and desserts
4. How Will You Spend Birthdays, Holidays, and Vacations?
In addition to developing a regular parenting schedule, divorcing spouses who intend to co-parent will often find it beneficial to specifically address parenting time for birthdays, holidays, and vacations. Whether you intend to spend these together, jointly celebrate certain holidays but not others, or jointly celebrate birthdays and holidays. Still, vacation separately, the key is to develop a plan in advance that works for everyone involved.
5. How Will You Address Your Children’s Transportation Needs?
Concerning transportation, in a co-parenting arrangement, the key is to have consistent guidelines that are easy to follow. While you and your former spouse may agree to deviate from your normal routine from time to time, having a normal routine will help avoid confusion and ensure that your children always know that they will get where they need to go.
6. How and When Will You Communicate Outside of Your Children’s Presence?
When you are co-parenting, there will be certain issues that you and your former spouse will need to discuss outside of your children’s presence. To make sure that you can fit these discussions into your busy days, you will want to have a plan outlined here.
7. What Types of Decisions Will Require Mutual Agreement?
When you and your former spouse are together, you will most likely end up making decisions together by default. However, various issues are not likely to come up in the normal course that will require joint decision-making. During the divorce process, you will want to identify the types of decisions (i.e., those related to healthcare, education, and extra-curricular activities) that require mutual involvement.
8. How Will You Deal with Emergencies?
In this same vein, you will want to develop a plan for dealing with emergencies as well. This applies both to emergencies involving your children and emergencies involving you or your former spouse.
9. How Will You Resolve Any Conflicts that Arise?
If you and your former spouse cannot come to terms on a particular issue, how will you resolve your conflict without resorting to the courts? There are various strategies available, and, here too, the key is to develop a plan in advance during your divorce.
10. How Will You Explain Your Coparenting Relationship to Your Children?
Finally, while co-parenting can make sense from a parenting perspective, children can confuse children to watch their parents go through a divorce. As you go through the process, it will be important to make sure that your children clearly understand what they can expect once your marriage is over.
Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. While these are some of the primary considerations, numerous other considerations go into developing a co-parenting agreement. If you would like more information about what is involved in preparing to co-parent after your divorce, our child support lawyer encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation.
Discuss Your Options with a Tempe, AZ Divorce Lawyer at Weingart Family Law
If you have questions about co-parenting or any other aspect of the divorce process in Arizona, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Tempe and Phoenix divorce lawyer at Weingart Family Law, call us at 480-542-0099 or inquire online today.