Coordinating contact schedules, splitting holidays and rearranging children between homes isn’t easy. Contact schedules are one of the major challenges for separated parents as it is a common area for conflict.
The parenting schedule that you agree to will depend on your child’s best interests. It’s also important to think about practical issues in developing a schedule that is best for your child. For example, work schedules, transport and how far you live from the other parent can have an impact.
Contact schedules are a popular topic and when reading all the information out there, it can be rather overwhelming. As a parent all you want is the best for your child – but what is that? I am of the opinion that there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to contact schedules. The approach I take in my mediation practice is that parents need to decide between themselves what they feel will be in their child’s best interests. They shall co-create a schedule that is practical, realistic, sustainable and fair.
It is also important to be detailed in your arrangements. If you leave aspects undecided and say that you will address them when necessary, this can expose you to conflict later. For example, it is important to set some ground rules around telephone contact. When the rules are not clear, misunderstandings can sometimes arise about one parent “interfering” with the time of the other parent.
You should also remember that to meet your child’s needs, you shall need to be flexible – nothing is set in stone. You’ll have to make changes when necessary, and the best way to do this is by mutual agreement. For this to be achieved, effective communication will be essential. You need to identify the best method of delivery between you and your co-parent. (This is a topic of conversation for another day).
Co-parenting is not a competition between two homes. It’s a collaboration of parents doing what is best for their children.