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Ways to increase the odds of agreeing on a parenting plan

Perhaps you and your future former spouse struggled to reach a point where you could agree to work out your custody arrangements and parenting plan without going to court. You may know that this is no small feat considering the emotional upheaval going on in your lives right now.

Maintaining that alliance in order to come to an agreement that best benefits your children may seem nearly impossible, but take heart that you can negotiate and create a parenting plan that suits your family's needs. In fact, you may find that you come out on the other side with a solid foundation upon which to build your post-divorce parenting relationship.

Set yourself up for success

Without a doubt, this process may not always be easy. You may know that you probably won't get your way 100 percent of the time, but life entails some give and take between parents even under the best of circumstances. The trick is to try not to compromise on those issues you believe to be of utmost importance. Other things, however, could greatly benefit from compromise. Consider the following strategies that could help you successfully negotiate your parenting plan:

  • Each parent has dates and issues important to them. Write yours down and talk to your future co-parent about his or hers. If you don't understand what is important to each of you, negotiations could easily come to a standstill. Communicating your wishes to each other could help you come up with a plan to accommodate as much of each of your desires as possible.
  • Give the other parent a "win." More than likely, something your ex finds important isn't important to you. It could go a long way toward creating goodwill between the two of you if you agree to something the other parent wants.
  • Small concessions make up the easy part, but they may help pave the way for better compromises when you reach the difficult issues. When compromising may not be what you want to do, it may help to have solid evidence to back up your wishes. If your ex sees that you put substantial thought into the issue and aren't just trying to win something or punish him or her, a compromise may be possible.
  • Negotiations can sometimes become strained. After all, you got into this situation because of your differences, and that may come out from time to time. It may be best to stop and take a break from the process, perhaps even overnight, in order to regain perspective, cool down and get back to work.
  • You may need a neutral third party such as a mediator to help keep you on track if those times when you get into confrontations increase. A mediator may also provide you with novel solutions to your disagreements that you may not have considered.

In the end, the goal is to come up with a plan that provides your children with as much access to each parent as possible. They need to know that their parents will put aside their differences in order to keep them a priority. With all of the changes going on in your family right now, giving your children that gift could make the transition to your new lives smoother and easier.

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