Most divorced parents in California are looking to co-parent their children in a healthy, peaceful environment. However, while the parents’ motivation might be positive, creating a successful parenting plan is not easy. Even when both parents agree on a schedule, they need to remember that parenting plans are works-in-progress that might need to be revisited as their family’s needs change.

Creating a parenting plan means remembering that the kids’ best interests and needs should be the focus, not a parent’s convenience or their need, perhaps, for getting back at their ex for the issues in the relationship. While feelings run high when a couple splits, those feelings should be put aside when deciding how to raise their children, or at least, the decisions should be not be based on those feelings. Both parents need to go into the negotiations understanding that sacrifices must be made by each party and they will not always know what the other party is sacrificing.

When negotiating how this new child custody agreement and co-parenting will work, parents need to imagine how their kids will feel and how they will be impacted by the changes. They also need to consider their kids’ schedules and activities, whether the children are school-aged or not. With older children, it might also be a good idea to involve them in the planning, because they might provide information about what is most comfortable for them. Finally, and perhaps for some parents the biggest challenge, they need to trust that their ex will also be a good parent given the opportunity.

During this process, a parent might also want to confer with a lawyer with family law experience. A lawyer may be able to explain the options available and guide them in making decisions that center their child’s best interests.