Creating a Texas co-parenting plan that works

Courts are placing increasing emphasis on providing both parents with opportunities to be more involved in their children's lives. As a result, many parents in Bexar County are finding themselves in a position where they must try to work together and co-parent their children, sharing equal child custody.

Setting aside emotions and grievances

When parents go through a divorce, there are often heightened emotions, grudges and hurt feelings involved. However, it is important for parents to be able to set aside these issues for the sake and welfare of their children. Helpguide.org recommends that one way to do this is to treat the arrangement like a business deal. The goal of the business is to provide a loving and nurturing environment for the children while encouraging the child to develop a close relationship with each parent.

This is easier said than done, as parents must be willing to work together. They must accept the fact that, while their relationship as spouses has fallen apart, they are still connected through their children. Graduations, weddings and birth of grandchildren are events that will likely require the presence of both parents and it will be easier on everyone involved if the parents learn to live peacefully with the arrangement.

Drawing up a parenting plan

Many courts now require parents, who are going through a divorce or who have separated without a marriage certificate, to submit what is referred to as a parenting plan. This is a document that defines the roles and responsibilities of each parent, rules for each child and schedules that outline when the child will spend time with each parent, according to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. The parenting plan should also be created with the age and needs of the child in mind.

When parents present their parenting plan, they should make sure that it includes the following items:

  • How parents will communicate (email, text, phone or through a neutral third-party).
  • How any disputes that arise will be addressed and resolved.
  • Transference of child to other parent's care.
  • Holiday and vacation schedule.
  • House rules that the child will follow in both houses.
  • Discipline methods.

In addition, parenting plans can specify how emergencies will be handled, the religion or education of the child, friends of the child and what will happen if a parent is transferred to another state through their job.

Courtesy and respect

The guidelines in a parenting plan, if followed by both parents, can help parents maintain courtesy and respect towards each other. Children learn from their parents and when they see their parents working together and taking care of conflicts in a rational manner, they will be more likely to develop the same skills as they grow into adults. Children will also feel more at ease with each parent, encouraging a continued bond of trust and love which is important for their self-esteem and confidence.

Parents should meet with an attorney who is experienced in creating solid parenting plans and to discuss any concerns they may have.