The events leading up to divorce often take a toll on your trust level with your spouse. Between broken promises, lies and disrespectful behavior, you may have just seen the worst side of your soon-to-be ex.
It can be incredibly difficult to acknowledge right away while emotions are running high, but your parenting plan is not about your relationship with your spouse. It is about you and your spouse’s individual relationships with your children and your future relationship as co-parents. Keeping this in mind is crucial in creating a plan that works for you and acts in the best interests of your children.
Here are three tips for forming a successful parenting plan with your ex-spouse.
1. Acknowledge their parenting strengths
Parents magazine has a list of ways to make joint custody work. One of the most insightful items is to recognize your spouse’s strengths as a parent.
While you may have decided to leave your marriage with your spouse behind for perfectly valid reasons, there is nothing stopping lousy spouses from still being great mothers or fathers. Try to focus your parenting plan on both of your strengths as parents, not on your weaknesses in your failed marriage.
2. Set clear expectations
When creating your parenting plan, a good way to establish some trust among both parents is to document even the most minute detail. If the rules are laid out clearly and both parents can understand them easily, then mistakes, lapses and even instances of willful non-compliance may occur less often.
If your ex-spouse does refuse to cooperate with your agreed upon terms, however, remember that your parenting plan has the authority of the court behind it.
3. Create a custom plan tailored to your family
Probably the best way to establish a successful parenting plan with an untrustworthy ex-spouse is to create a plan that works for both of you and keeps your children’s best interests at the center. Even if you do not expect your ex to keep their promises to you, you can hopefully expect them to at least act in your children’s best interests. When settling on details, consider your schedules, commitments and possible career paths—these details could matter when your ex is deciding whether they want to comply with the plan in the future.
The good news is that custom parenting plans are usually efficient and effective. It could take some emotional effort to bring yourself to trust your ex enough to begin a conversation. However, this type of collaborative custody agreement can be easier in the long run than taking your case to court.