A Simple Guide on Creating a Child Custody Agreement Peacefully

Child custody agreement


Separation under any circumstances is difficult. Whether you separate peacefully, with conflict, with a child, or without a child, separation is hard. If you don’t have a child, you can separate with your partner at each other’s necks and once the settlements are finished, you can dust off your hands and be done with it. You do not have to maintain pleasantries. 

However, if you have a child, amicable collaboration is quintessential to ensure the happy and healthy development of your child, no matter your feelings for your ex-partner. You absolutely have to put the needs of your child first, and your contempt for your ex-partner second. There is no other way. 

This starts from the very get-go when settling your child custody agreement. Understand, listen and be respectful to what your ex-partner has to say. Treat the relationship like a business partner or colleague, and your business being the life of your child. 

In this article, we provide our best tips and advice, so you can successfully reach a child custody agreement peacefully, and co-parent in the best interest of your child: 

  • 4 Tips to Set Hurt, Anger and Contempt Aside When Dealing With an Ex-Partner 
  • 7 Tips to Improving Communication With an Ex-Partner 
  • 5 Tips for Co-Parenting After the Child Custody Agreement. Team Work Makes The Dream Work! 
  • How to Make a Parenting Plan!

The 2 Pillars For a Peaceful Child Custody Agreement 

When settling a child custody agreement, there are two foundation principles that you absolutely must do if you want to settle peacefully, which will definitely benefit your child. 

  • Set Your Hurt, Anger and Contempt Aside and Focus on the Needs of Your Child!
  • Communicate Often, Communicate Clearly, Communicate With Respect.

Undergoing a settlement requires a lot of patience and organisation. Divorce law rules, divorce lawyers, and divorce laws are frustrating. Hopefully, you can settle outside of the courtroom. Conducting yourself and your ex-partner with respect, as if you were business associates, will leverage you both in the best possible position to raise your child with dignity. Don’t think about the process as trying to beat your ex-partner in court, instead, try and work out what will be best for your child and set the guidelines for how you both will successfully co-parent.

4 Tips to Set Hurt, Anger, and Contempt Aside When Dealing With an Ex-Partner 

Setting aside your feelings for an ex-partner is a herculean task, especially if they are negative and you have to keep seeing your ex-partner. However, there are things you can do to help with the process: 

1. Talk to Someone About Your Feelings, but never your child:

You should never, ever, talk disparagingly about your ex-partner to your child. That to them is still someone they love and rely on deeply and can make them very uncomfortable. Instead, set up a support network of friends and family you can lean on, or get the help of a therapist. You don’t want to risk a blow-up with your ex-partner at the risk of your child’s wellbeing. 

2. Think of Your Child

If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, think about the care and love you have for your child. Remember why you’re doing it all. Think of the benefits and how great your child’s life will be thanks to your efforts. Bad times are temporary, it will be worth it if you hold on!

3. Never Shoot the Messenger, Or Even Risk It!

You should never, ever use your child as a messenger. This can put your child in the middle of the conflict between you and your ex-partner. If your ex-partner uses your child as a messenger, don’t be angry at your child, they are just doing what they are told. Use email, phone or online parenting platforms like 2houses to communicate. 

4. Keep Your Issues to Yourself: 

Your child has the right to choose where they want to go for themselves. Do not get angry at them because of your ex-partner. They have the right to a great relationship with both of their parents. 

7 Tips to Improving Communication With an Ex-Partner 

Communication between you and an ex-partner can be like extracting teeth. Slow and painful! But it is essential to organising and creating a successful, dynamic parenting plan for the development of your child. Here are seven tips on how to do it:

1. Act Professionally 

The best way to communicate with your ex-partner is to act like you’re conducting a business deal, and the topic of discussion is the wellbeing of your child. Talk clearly, respectfully, and neutrally. Removing emotion and keeping discussions on your child will make things easier.

2. Ask, Don’t Demand

When dealing with an ex-partner you feel begrudgingly toward, it might feel like you have to make demands to “win the battle” and “set the record straight”. When dealing with your child, try to make requests, rather than demands. Phrase sentences like “would you mind if I…” instead of “I am…”. 

3. Listen to Your Ex-Partner 

This might be difficult if they accuse you of never listening or they never listen themselves, or you don’t agree with what they’re saying. But listening is important for mature conversation. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to acknowledge and register what they have said.

4. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint 

Exercise some restraint when talking to your ex-partner. Try not to overreact to the buttons they try to push. This arrangement is going to last longer than the conversation you’re having with them right now, it’s going to last your child’s entire life. Having a screaming match at every little thing will be torture in the long run. Don’t win the battle, win the war that is your child’s wellbeing. That is the ultimate victory.

5. Talk Regularly

It is hard, and you might hate doing it, but you have to talk. You need to be on the same page with your child’s development so you can implement your parenting plan. Appearing like you’re talking to your child will also make them more comfortable. 

6. Talk About Your Child

There’s no need to talk about the weather to someone you hate. Stick to the point and talk about your child, and talk about them lots.

7. Recognise When You’re Getting Angry

When your ex-partner starts pushing on some very familiar buttons that have been pushed before, recognise it. Recognise what they are doing and when you start to get angry so you can avoid a blow-up. The most important thing to do is remain calm. 

5 Tips for Co-Parenting After the Child Custody Agreement. Team Work Makes The Dream Work! 

Via Pixabay

Even outside of the child custody agreement, there will be many points of pain and difficulty. But it does not matter, you will endure because you must. Your child depends on it! Just because you and your ex-partner are no longer romantically engaged, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a team. So act like it! Here are some tips on how you can create a co-parenting plan together that works:

1. Rules & Schedules 

Different roofs, same rules. You and your ex-partner need to be on the same page. If your child is under punishment in one house, it should translate to the next. If there is only one hour of computer per day in one house, it should translate to the next. If bedtime is 7:30 in one house, it should translate to the next. If there is a reward for good behaviour or celebrations for a great achievement in one house, it should translate to the next! Children thrive on routine, this shouldn’t be compromised from your split. 

2. Delegate Responsibilities

For sure, on major issues, you should collaborate together to form a parenting plan. But in day-to-day operations and contact, delegating responsibilities isn’t a bad idea. Maybe you look after your child’s sport, while your ex-partner deals with medical affairs, or music lessons. Work it out between yourselves. 

3. New Partner Alert 

So your ex-partner has a new love interest. So what? You’re separated. It might be difficult to see, but new partners are inevitable. This shouldn’t affect your parenting. It could even be a good thing for your child!

4. Alternating Houses 

Your child can sometimes have anxiety about moving between yours and your ex-partner’s dwelling. You should maintain a schedule, like a week-on-week-off arrangement where your child shares houses. Remind your child a day or so before that, they will be moving and pack their bags early, so as to not forget important things like stuffed toys.

5. Compromise 

You need to be flexible with your ex-partner. This means compromising to them just as much as they do to you. Small issues like if your child should go to bed at 7:30 or 8:00 aren’t worth fighting over. 

Make a Parenting Plan!

Throughout this article, I have mentioned a parenting plan. Making a parenting plan is very important. Having calendar, financial and communication goals will align both of you on the best road to success.  You can speak with a legal counsel in establishing an effective and equal parenting plan for both parents.

Online platforms like 2houses offer a cloud-based service that makes this very easy. Both you and your ex-partner being able to access your goals anywhere, at any time, thanks to the cloud, will prove to be a huge advantage in your parenting.

Divorcing From An Abusive Spouse: What You Need To Know

Divorcing From An Abusive Spouse

Every year, domestic violence wreaks havoc on the lives of an estimated four million people – the vast majority of whom are women, but men also make up a significant percentage of that statistic. In addition to this, it’s important to point out that domestic abuse also has a substantial ripple effect on entire families and friendship groups, causing distress and trauma to those close to the abuse.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a victim of domestic abuse, you may be considering a divorce from your partner. After all, domestic violence can affect mental health and physical health, as well as cause significant harm and even death in extreme situations. With that said, here is a quick run-through of everything you need to know about divorcing an abusive spouse.

What Are the Types of Abuse In a Marriage?

First and foremost, it is critical to understand the various forms of marital abuse. Unfortunately, many individuals believe that physical violence is the only way their spouse may harm them, but this is simply not true. The following are some of the most prevalent kinds of abuse in abusive relationships:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional and verbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Digital abuse
  • Stalking

How Spousal Abuse Might Affect the Type of Divorce You Choose?

Typically, there are two types of divorce that you need to be aware of; these are no-fault and fault-based. Divorcing spouses under certain state laws have the choice of seeking a fault-based divorce, but in others, all divorces are classed as no-fault. It all depends on the laws within your area.

No-Fault Divorce

The filing spouse in a no-fault divorce is seeking a divorce based on one of the state’s no-fault legal grounds. In most states, these legal grounds are usually separation, irreconcilable differences, irreversible breakdown, and incompatibility. To have a claim for a no-fault divorce accepted by the court, the filing spouse does not have to allege that there has been any marital abuse. Instead, the spouse must simply inform the court that the marriage has ended and that there is nothing that can be done to save it through things such as counseling, etc. After this, the court will grant the divorce if both spouses fulfill the state’s other divorce standards.

Fault-Based Divorce

A fault-based divorce, on the other hand, requires the filing spouse to launch allegations that there are more specific legally recognized grounds for the divorce. Adultery, abuse, criminal convictions, and substance addiction are just a few of the common reasons for fault-based divorces. As for domestic abuse, you can claim in your divorce papers that your marriage ended because of your spouse’s abuse, giving details where necessary.

How Spousal Abuse Affects Financial Outcomes After a Divorce

Of course, it goes without saying that the financial aspect of a divorce is one of the most significant. In many cases, this can be the primary factor that causes abused spouses to remain in the marriage without seeking a divorce, as they are fearful they will be cut off and left without any assets, possessions, or cash.

To be frank, it’s impossible to offer a blanket response about how funds will be handled after a divorce because each case is unique. With that stated, marital abuse can have an impact on property distribution, especially if the spouse who has been abused can prove that it has resulted in financial losses or a reduction in their capacity to generate income. Domestic violence victims with additional financial concerns tend to be treated more leniently by the courts, sometimes offering alimony to those who need financial support.

How Spousal Abuse Affects Child Custody After a Divorce

If you have children, you may be anxious about how the courts will handle custody. In every state, the court will examine what will be the best outcome for the child. If you can show that you have been the victim of domestic abuse, the courts may place restrictions on your abusive spouse’s custody rights, such as restricting overnight visits. In severe situations, a court may terminate their right to visitation and give you complete custody, but this, too, is contingent on the facts of your case.

Above all, the most crucial consideration is your safety. If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, get help right away so you can protect yourself and your children. Once you are safe, then you can start to consider moving through with the divorce.

How is Child Support Calculated?

Child support

It is the responsibility of both parents to financially support their children. When one parent has physical custody after a divorce, the other parent makes a child support payment to fulfill his or her role as non-custodial parent.

Furthermore, marriage has no bearing on the need to support a child. Any parent, whether married or not, is accountable for his or her child’s financial well-being.

That being said, it would be better and more financially sound for separated couples to settle child custody issues and financial support agreements through a child custody attorney than bring the case to court.

The Impact of Custody Decision on Child Support

The courts rarely intervene in how parents decide to raise or support their children, unless there is neglect or abuse involved.

When a couple gets divorced, one parent is usually granted custody while the other is expected to provide financial support. In the event of a custody dispute or should the custodial parent seek financial assistance, the court may step in and issue orders on what the both parties must do to maintain the well-being of their children.

In most cases, mothers get custody of the children and fathers are usually the ones who pay child support and alimony to fulfill their responsibility as non-custodial parents. However, when they are granted joint custody, the court determines the amount of child support each parent must pay based on the law.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Child Support

Federal law requires each state in the United States to develop criteria for determining and calculating child support. Though the guidelines can vary greatly from state to state, they often rely on the same considerations used for deciding spousal support and child custody, such as:

  • The parents’ individual incomes
  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent
  • The number of children and their ages

The court will also take into account variables like the family’s standard of living before the divorce, the special needs of the child, the resources of the custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay.

In situations where a child has extraordinary needs, the court may deviate from the standard child support guidelines and decide for the best interest of the child.

How to Calculate Child Support

How much you pay as the non-custodial parent (or how much you receive as the custodial parent) is determined by the formula that your state uses to determine the amount of child support payments.

Again, child support laws differ by state. Each state government employs one of three fundamental models/methods to calculate child support, which are as follows:

1. The Income Shares Model

Most states use the Income Shares Model. In this method, the court considers the combined parental income and the number of minor children to determine what share of their parents’ income the kids would have received if they lived together. This model is founded on the idea that both parents’ incomes were spent to benefit all the members of the household prior to the divorce.

For example; the court determines that the children require $2,000/month and the parents earn a combined annual income of $200,000. If the father earns $120,000/year and the mother makes $40,000/year, the court may order the father to pay $1,200/month and the mother to pay $800/month for child support.

2. The Percentage of Income Model

In states that use the Income Percentage Model, the court calculates child support payments based on a set percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross or net income and the number of children he/she supports.

The percentage of income can be either flat or varying. In the flat percentage model, fluctuations in the income of the non-custodial parent does not change the percentage of income paid towards child support. The varying percentage model is the opposite. The percentage of income changes as the non-custodial parent’s income changes.

Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, and Wisconsin use the Flat Percentage Model, while North Dakota and Texas employ the Varying Percentage Model.

3. The Melson Formula

States that use the Melson formula calculate child support payment based on a specific set of parameters known as the “Melson Factors.” Some of the considerations included in this model are the income of both parents, the needs of the child, the standard of living adjustment for the child or SOLA.

The Melson Formula is a variant of the Income Shares Model. Their biggest difference is that the Melson Formula allows for additional child support payment as the income of one of both parents increases.

Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana use the Melson Formula to calculate child support.

How Long Must Parents Pay Child Support

A parent is required to pay child support until the child reaches 18 years of age. However, if the child lives at home and is financially reliant on his or her parents, child support payments may have to continue even after they turn 18.

Parents with 18-year-olds still enrolled in school, for example, may have to support their children until the age of 23. Moreover, a parent with a severely disabled child can be ordered by the court to pay child support for the rest of his or her life.

What Can Happen If A Parent Fails to Pay Child Support

Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences. Asset seizure and wage garnishment may be imposed on a non-paying parent. And because child support is a court order, a parent who fails to pay it may be held in contempt of court, face jail time, and/or lose his or her driver’s license.

Even a parent who’s unable to work is not excused from paying child support. Missed payments will be accumulated as arrears even if a parent is in jail or the hospital, and these arrears must be paid back when he or she can work again.

Parents who fall behind on child support payments can petition a judge to reduce future child support payments, but this will have no effect on past due child support. Child support is owed until it is paid in full and is not dischargeable even through bankruptcy.

About the Author:

Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing minigolf with her friends and family in her spare time.

Life after Divorce: Tips for Moving into Your New Home

Life after divorce

Moving houses is never easy, especially if it happens after a divorce. While you’re still dealing with the pain of the breakup, it’s hard to focus on the move. And once you look at your new place, it can be hard to imagine it as your new home. However, there are ways you can make this unpleasant process easier on yourself and your kids if they are in the mix. If you focus on a few simple tasks, you can turn your empty house into a peaceful and loving home for your new family.

Purge your possessions

You don’t have to keep all the things you’ve got in the divorce. In order to make this new place your home, you will need to purge and declutter. For instance, you can ditch the wedding albums, leave that ugly couch you’ve always hated on the curb and sell your marital bed on the internet. The objects we own carry strong emotional associations with them, so you might want to start fresh with a few important items. While you need to be practical with new purchases, some items need to go. If you need a coffee table, but you own the one you and your ex bought on your honeymoon to Bali, it will need to be replaced.

Be fast and decisive

No matter if this house is yours forever or just a temporary rental, you can’t live out of boxes and feel at home. You shouldn’t be scared to spend money and time to quickly unpack and get your place functional and comfortable. Throw on a fresh coat of paint, buy a new washing machine and set up your internet and cable—these will make your life easier and nicer. Also, taking action when it comes to your new place will give you a purpose and get rid of any insecurity in your life.

Prioritize safety

Every time you move into a new place, you need to check if it’s safe and secure for you and your kids. Inspect the house and remove any hazards that can cause trips, slips and bumps, and provide baby gates on stairs. Also, make sure all your locks are new and you have at least some semblance of a security system in place (camera doorbell or alarm system)—this is especially important in case your divorce was ugly and there’s some bad blood between you and your ex. And make sure your new place is insured.  Only move in after you set up your home and contents insurance that will offer coverage for storms, fire, earthquake, flood, escaping water, as well as explosions, riots and theft. Get insurance quotes early, so you can move into a fully insured house that is safe for you and your loved ones.

Let kids set up their bedrooms

If you have kids, you’re probably worried about how they will handle the divorce, but if you quickly provide them with stability, they will adapt to change. They also need to have a little bit of independence, since there are so many things that are out of their control. Giving them ownership of their rooms can be very beneficial. Let them choose the furniture, color, window treatment and give them the responsibility of keeping their bedrooms clean and tidy.

Decorate according to your tastes

You probably have a bunch of mementos of your old life before marriage tucked away somewhere. Well, this is the perfect time for them to come out and serve as decoration in your new house. Place them somewhere visible so they can cheer you up quickly and easily. Decorating is also a perfect opportunity to create some new memories with your kids. When you catch a free afternoon, you can start a project and work on it together to beautify your new house.

You can also surround yourself with pictures of your loved ones. You might not want to completely forget about your married life, but it’s important to document the state of your family today. Fill the space with photos of you and your kids, friends and family members—this will remind you what you accomplished and encourage you to continue making amazing memories.

Don’t neglect nature

No matter where you live, in the city or suburbs, three things can instantly lift your mood: fresh air, greenery and animals. If you can’t get a pet, you can always go to a shelter and give some love to those in need. In general, contact with nature boosts mood, lowers stress and blood pressure and raises serotonin levels. If you have the space, set up a little garden to serve as your haven. Tending to a garden after a divorce can be a very healing experience.

Every divorce is different and everyone takes it differently, but one is for sure—in your new house, you will find peace and happiness. And if you follow our tips, your new house will turn into a home in a blink of an eye. 

Co-parenting Arrangement Without Going Through the Courts?

Co-parenting arrangement

It’s not always easy figuring out how a co-parenting arrangement might work. The good news is that establishing a co-parenting arrangement doesn’t always require going through the courts. An amicable, voluntary agreement can help save time and money for parents who want joint custody of their children.

Here, we’ll discuss various ways to make co-parenting agreements without going through the courts. We’ll also answer some common questions about co-parenting.

To learn more about co-parenting arrangements without going through the courts, keep reading.

Getting Started With Negotiating

You may want a better way to reach a custody agreement. It might surprise you to learn that the best custody agreements have been drafted outside of a courtroom.

These kinds of arrangements involve mutual agreements between two parties. Sometimes, a neutral third-party may help.

In this way, former couples can create a reasonable custody agreement in an open and mature manner. These kinds of agreements are usually acceptable to the courts.

Making a Co-Parenting Arrangement

You may have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse or partner. If so, you might find that it’s possible to create a written agreement regarding the care of your child. For instance, one parent may have partial custody, and the other would have visitation rights.

Still, the two of you will need to make decisions. For instance, you’ll need to figure out where your child will spend their birthday. You’ll also need to figure out where your child will spend special holidays and other important family events.

There are three ways that you might go about this task. These methods include.

• Alternative dispute resolution
• Mediation
• Collaborative law

Let’s have a closer look at these practices.

Getting Help With Negotiations

Even though the two of you are agreeing to agree, you may still need to conduct an informal negotiation. Negotiation would involve you, your former spouse, and possibly another party.

This kind of negotiation is called alternative dispute resolution (ARD). It’s a relatively new concept.

ARD is used for a variety of processes. It enables parties to settle disputes out of court and bypass lengthy trials.

A Better Way to Resolve Conflicts

The ADR process is less adversarial. It also takes place in a setting that’s more casual than a court. Still, there are other benefits to alternative dispute resolution.

For example, there’s a lesser degree of conflict between parties during ADR. Also, couples that participate in ADR seem more willing to work together to resolve issues. Furthermore, ADR proceedings don’t become a part of the public record.

Navigating Custody

Some separating couples also resolve conflicts using an informal settlement negotiation process. This process is called mediation.

Again, the emphasis here is on non-adversarial conflict resolution. In this process, a mediator will meet with you and your former spouse. The mediator will help you to settle any disputes.

The mediation process can help you and your former spouse to avoid hostile, stress-filled litigation. It will also spare you and your child from the trauma of a custody dispute.

What to Expect

A mediator will not impose a solution for a dispute. Instead, they will aid you as parents. The mediator will help the two of you come to an agreement.

Some states do ask mediators to make recommendations. However, they only usually do so when the parties involved in mediation cannot reach an agreement.

Also, some states encourage mediation over child custody litigation. In these states, legislators view mediation as a better method for establishing child custody and visitation compared to litigation.

The Benefits of Mediation

Mediation offers several benefits. Firstly, it doesn’t require the expense of hiring a lawyer. There’s also no need for the courts to call expert witnesses during mediation.

Couples usually resolve mediation matters after five to ten hours of negotiation. These negotiations may take place over a period of one to two weeks.

Mediation, rather than litigation, enhances communication between parents. In other words, it’s more likely that divorced parents who’ve taken part in mediation will continue to cooperate. This outcome is very beneficial for raising emotionally healthy children.

The Mediation Process

There are several steps involved in the mediation process. First, you’ll need to meet with the mediator for the first time.

During the initial meeting, the mediator will identify and categorize any issues. After identifying any issues, the mediator can help you and your ex-partner discuss solutions.

During the discussion, your mediator will encourage both of you to maintain a give and take attitude. Once you’ve come to an agreement, the mediator will help to prepare your custody agreement.

The amount of time that it takes you to complete mediation will vary depending on a few things. For instance, mediation will take longer or shorter depending on the number of custody issues that arise.

The length of the mediation will also vary based on the complexity of your issues. Finally, your commitment to a successful agreement will also affect how long the full mediation process takes.

A New Kind of Family Law

Another kind of negotiation falls under a relatively new and emerging legal process. The process is called collaborative law. In many cases, parents find that collaborative law is very useful.

Collaborative law practices help to reduce legal costs. They also help to reduce animosity between involved parties.

These kinds of benefits are important when trying to achieve a child custody agreement. During a collaborative law process, the primary focus is an absolute commitment to coming to an agreement.

Understanding Collaborative Family Law

During a collaborative law process, two lawyers negotiate in a room alongside the parents. The lawyers work together to help guide parents in the same direction. The goal here is to resolve any issues and disputes.

Collaborative law is different from alternative dispute resolution and mediation. With this process, there’s no neutral third-party involved in the process.

Accordingly, you may have decisions to make as the collaborative law process moves forward. For instance, you may choose to hire a lawyer or an expert to help with accounting issues. You might also need to hire other professionals to help with asset valuation or any other important issues that may arise.

Settling on an Agreement

If you’re entertaining entering a parenting agreement, you’re most likely separating from a former partner or spouse. If a child is involved in the separation, it’s important that you create a parenting agreement.

Challenging times may have led to the separation. Nevertheless, you must focus on putting the needs of your child first.

In other words, you’ll need to do everything that you can to come to a mutual agreement about custody and visitation issues. Coming to an agreement is a much better alternative compared to leaving it to a judge to decide what’s best for your family.

Why Make a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement. It will help set a precedent for a successful post-separation relationship.

The making of your parenting plan is an opportunity for you and your ex-partner to talk about important issues. It will help the two of you examine things that may come up during your child’s lifetime.

For example, a parenting agreement might include the terms of the parenting schedule. It might also highlight each parent’s shared expenses and responsibilities for raising the child.

Finding a Parenting Plan that Works

There’s no pre-made parenting plan that will work for every family. What works for one family may not work for another.

Some parents will prefer a split custody parenting plan. This kind of plan provides for frequent and continuous contact with each parent about 50% of the time.

Other parents may prefer a plan where one parent has limited contact. For example, a separating couple may prefer an arrangement where one parent has the child every other weekend plus a midweek.

Alternatively, the parenting plan could make provisions for an occasional overnight visit. These kinds of points are something that only you and your former partner can decide.

Managing Parenting Plan Changes

A question often comes up after parents create a parenting plan. The parents have done the challenging work of working together to create a parenting agreement.

However, eventually, they realize that things could change over time. Now, they’re left wondering what they’ll do when the terms of the current parenting agreement are no longer ideal.

It’s possible to make changes to a parenting agreement. After finalizing a parenting agreement, most couples don’t want to revisit the experience of returning to court, and this is understandable.

However, there’s something that you need to understand in this regard. It’s possible that a dispute could arise in the future.

If this happens, the courts will decide based on the last legal parenting agreement, no matter how long the two of you have used a verbally agreed-on plan.

Parenting Plan Points to Consider

As you develop your parenting plan, you and your ex will need to consider a few important things. Of course, you’ll need to consider your custody agreement. Here, you’ll need to come up with a plan that works for both you and your child.

Separating parents make many different kinds of custody arrangements. For example, separated parents could continue to live near each other. In this case, a shared parenting schedule with equal time with their child may work well.

What’s important here is to come up with a plan where everyone agrees. Your custody plan must be palatable for everyone involved.

With this in mind, you’ll also want to get input from your child. If they’re of a suitable age, their feelings about the situation should weigh in your decision.

Choosing Living Arrangements

Often, children prefer a flexible living arrangement. In other words, they want the ability to transition between households as desired. When parents separate, kids often want to go from household to household on their schedule, not that of their parents.

Here, it’s important to remember that kids want to know their parents care about them. They also want to know that both parents will continue to be a part of their everyday life. It’s vital to provide this benefit for your children with few interruptions and stresses.


In some instances, you may find that you’re geographically separated after a divorce or separation. In that case, you may need to choose a primary residence for your child during the week and school year. They’ll then usually visit with the other parent on weekends, holidays, and summer.

In this scenario, your parenting plan should include where and when you’ll exchange your child. It should also include how the two of you will make decisions about where your child will stay during an emergency.

Your parenting plan might also address the visitation percentage of the non-custodial parent. For instance, couples usually agree that the non-custodial parent will have about 20% of the total parenting time.


You’ll also need to come to an agreement about your child’s education. It can prove very disruptive for a child to change schools mid-year. With this in mind, you’ll want to achieve continuity and stability for your child.

For example, you might agree not to change school arrangements until the end of the school year. You’ll also need to work out how you’ll both contribute to school expenses.

Again, this kind of problem might arise for parents who live in geographically separate areas. You may find that your child wants to change the living arrangement and move with the other parent.

In that case, they’ll also need to attend a new school. You’ll need to consider this as you draft your parenting arrangement.

Also, don’t overlook the time your child needs to study and do their homework. In addition, both parents should be prepared to help with assignments when needed.

Finalizing a Parenting Plan

The courts must approve your final parenting plan. Until the courts approve the plan, it has no legal standing.

This part of the process begins with a judge reviewing your parenting plan. The primary concern of the judge is that your plan meets the best interests of your child.

In this regard, the Family Court must accept your parenting plan. If they do, the parenting plan becomes a court order. In other words, you must legally abide by all terms of the parenting plan.

A Tool That Makes Co-parenting Easier

Hopefully, our brief overview has helped you see the benefits of a co-parenting arrangement. Coming to an agreement is just the first step in successfully raising a child after separation.

You’ll also need to keep track of many things as you raise your child. 2Houses can help.

2Houses can help you with co-parent scheduling, communication, financial tracking, and more. Give our 14-day free trial a try to learn how.

DIY Divorce: 8 Things to Include in Your Parenting Plan

Your Parenting Plan

The average cost of a divorce in the United States is $12,900, but if you and the other parent are in agreement on your divorce terms, you may not need to do everything with lawyers. DIY divorces are becoming more and more popular and for good reason. However, if you have children, it’s important to make sure that your parenting plan is thorough and includes everything required in your state. Keep reading to learn more about DIY divorce and how to make sure your parenting plan is done correctly.

What Is a DIY Divorce?

A DIY divorce is when you and the other parent agree on the terms of your separation and then complete and file the paperwork yourselves. Usually, there are no lawyers involved, and there are many sites available that walk you through the process of finding the right forms for your state and filing with your local family court. These types of divorces are often filed as dissolutions.

DIY divorces can be extremely beneficial in that they’re much cheaper, usually only costing a few hundred dollars including the filing fee, and don’t require multiple visits to the family courts for hearings. However, they only work when both parties are in agreement over the terms, and even then, it’s important to be careful if there are children involved. The courts often have very specific requirements about what a parenting plan can or cannot cover, and you’ll have to conform to those requirements or the judge could dismiss your case and refuse to move forward until different paperwork has been filed.

8 Things to Put in Your Parenting Plan

As you’re drawing up your parenting plan, you want to be as specific and thorough as possible for what your unique family situation needs while also meeting the court’s requirements. Here are eight things to make sure your parenting plan covers.

1. Custody and Visitation

How custody and visitation time will be split is something that is required by every state for a parenting plan. When you’re deciding custody, keep in mind that you will need to lay out the specifications for legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody centers around who gets to make decisions. This can be sole legal custody, which means if the two parties can’t decide on a matter, the parent who has sole legal custody gets the final say. If you have joint legal custody, it means that you both have to agree or the matter has to go before a judge to be decided.

Physical custody refers to actual time spent with the children. In most cases, the courts now prefer joint physical custody arrangements. This can be done in many ways, from a true 50/50 split to 70/30, 80/20 or anything in between. You’ll want to make sure you outline the physical custody decisions and what you plan to use as a visitation schedule, even if you don’t think you will need it. This ensures both parents have something legal to fall back on if they disagree later on.

2. Shared Expenses

In most states, child support is completely unrelated to the divorce or custody arrangements and is decided by the formula the state uses. This means you likely won’t need to have anything about child support in your paperwork unless you specifically want to deviate from the state standards. What you do want to make sure you include is how other expenses will be paid.

Think broadly and consider that your children will get older and expenses will change. For example, you may need to work out who pays what percentage of preschool now, but you’ll also need to think about extracurricular fees for sports when they get older, orthodontia and college tuition. There are also shared medical expenses.

It’s a good idea to make a list of all the possible expenses and categories for now and in the future, and then go through each one with the other parent and decide who is paying what and what percentages if you are going to split some expenses. It’s also a good idea to specifically write in how one parent will reimburse the other. For example, will they provide a check or will they do a mobile payment through an app like 2houses.

3. Holiday and Special Days Schedule

While the physical custody agreement will lay out how the standard visitation schedule will work, you’ll still need to consider other situations, such as holidays and days of special meaning like birthdays. The default schedule for holidays through the courts usually has the parents alternating holidays, but if you know another arrangement will work better for you, it’s a good idea to include it.

Summer vacations and school breaks are also important to consider. Keep in mind that what you put into the parenting plan is really only a fall back if you aren’t able to work things out with the other parent. If your situation is amicable, you can still make adjustments and agreements on the fly together.

4. Future Partners

While you may not be considering dating or remarriage right now in the midst of divorce, it’s likely that this will become an issue for one or both parties at some point. Some parents put provisions into the parenting plan for when a parent can introduce a significant other to the kids or that the kids won’t call a step-parent “Mom” or “Dad.”

5. Right of First Refusal

Right of first refusal is something that many parents wish they would have added into their parenting plan but is also something that’s usually forgotten. Right of first refusal means that if one parent can’t care for the children during their parenting time, such as because of a work conflict, the other parent gets the first right to that time. This is designed to ensure the children spend as much time as possible with the parents instead of babysitters and other caregivers.

Keep in mind, however, that you can’t use the right of first refusal to keep the children from spending reasonable time with extended family. If the other parent is home and able to care for the children and is just sending them to spend an afternoon at grandma’s, this wouldn’t count as a right of first refusal situation.

6. No Negative Comments

Most states’ standard parenting plans have a paragraph in them that states that neither party will talk badly about the other parent or make negative comments in front of the children. It also sometimes extends to not allowing other people, such as relatives, make negative comments about a parent in front of the child. It may seem unnecessary, and it is hard to enforce in the courts, but it’s a good thing to also put in your DIY divorce paperwork because it serves as black and white reminder that you’re supposed to be supporting a positive coparenting atmosphere.

7. Coparenting Communication

On the subject of coparenting, talking about how you plan on communicating with each other and putting that in writing for clarity in the parenting plan is suggested. Even if you have a great relationship with the other parent and are able to casually call and text for plans and updates, it may still be advantageous to spell out that you’re going to use a coparenting app for official communication. 2houses lets you keep message records and lets you know when the other parent has seen your message. It also has lots of other great features aimed at making coparenting easier, such as expense tracking and a shared calendar. 

8. Making Changes

No matter how thorough you are in creating your initial parenting plan, it’s almost guaranteed that something will come up eventually that you haven’t anticipated. For this reason, you may want to add a clause in the parenting plan about how you’ll deal with changes, whether that’s a jointly agreed amendment or going to mediation.

If you’re not sure about a certain aspect of your parenting plan or divorce documents or negotiations turn sour, you may end up needing to consult with a family law attorney to find out your next steps.

COVID-19 Decisions: Which Parent Gets to Make Them

Covid-19 Coparenting Decisions

The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in early 2020, and it caused a change of life for many. Between lockdowns, mask mandates, online schooling and supply chain issues, it’s been difficult to navigate this new normal. It’s also brought about strong feelings on both sides, and this can cause coparenting challenges if you and the other parent aren’t on the same page.

It can be confusing in a coparenting situation to know who gets to make the final decisions on which issues if both parents don’t agree, but understanding the processes the family courts have for this is important. Below, we take a look at some of the common coparenting decisions that have come up with COVID-19 and discuss who gets to make these decisions and what you can do if you want to change that.

Possible Coparenting Decisions Surrounding COVID-19

The guidelines around COVID-19 continue to change, and it can be difficult to keep up with what the latest recommendations are. However, there are two main areas that COVID-19 has affected when it comes to coparenting and your children: education and medical decisions. Here are a few of the common decisions parents are facing right now.

Where Your Child Will Go to School

When COVID-19 caused many schools to go virtual in 2020, it created a unique challenge for parents. They were suddenly faced with trying to make sure their children were learning and staying up with schoolwork while also navigating their own jobs and the general changes to the world. Some parents found that they really enjoyed the time they had with their children or were surprised at how much time children were just staring at a screen and not really learning in virtual school. Even as schools went back to in-person school, mask mandates, vaccine recommendations and COVID-19 guidelines also had some parents wondering if it was the best choice for their family.

But what happens if you think your children should go to in-person school but the other parent is very against it and wants to do online school or homeschool? This isn’t something that really lends itself to compromise, and it can be something that both parents feel equally strongly about.

Whether Your Child Will Get the Vaccine

As of October 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was available for those aged 13 and up, but trials were in process for vaccines for younger children. Whether your child gets a vaccine is a medical decision, and it can be very difficult to navigate if you and the other parent aren’t on the same page. It can also create issues if one parent is vaccinating their family and the other parent isn’t. What happens to the joint children as they go between houses? This issue can have far-reaching consequences into visitation schedules and can cause a great deal of conflict between the coparents.

Whether Your Child Should Wear a Mask

Masking is a major debate in some countries, including the United States where it has become a political issue with extreme and vocal opinions on either side. Usually, the children actually have far less strong of an opinion on this subject than the parents do, but if the parents do disagree on this matter, it can put the child in the middle and create conflict. While some parents may take a stand of letting each parent choose whether or not to have the child wear a mask during their parenting time, this issue can also affect where the child goes to school and what extracurricular activities they can participate in.

What Happens If Your Child Gets Sick

The original COVID-19 strain didn’t seem to affect children in the same way it did adults, but variants such as Delta have started to change that. More children are getting sick with the virus, and even if they don’t get severely ill, it can cause some problems. For example, will the child continue to follow the normal visitation schedule when they’re sick? This is common, but what happens if the other parent doesn’t want to risk bringing COVID-19 into their household.

If your child is one of the few who gets severely ill, you may also be facing significant challenges in who gets to visit the child at the hospital and who will get to make the decisions regarding the child’s method of care.

Who Gets to Make the Decisions?

Who gets to make medical and educational decisions is determined by what kind of custody you have and if there are any specifics in your custody order or parenting plan. You’ll want to look at what your papers say about legal custody. It’s common to get confused between legal and physical custody. Physical custody is time sharing and visitation schedules; legal custody is the basis for decision-making.

If one parent has sole legal custody, then that’s the parent who has the right to make education and medical decisions for the children. If the other parent disagrees strongly enough, they can bring it to the courts, but there is a large burden on them to prove that there is some reason that the custodial parent is acting outside of the child’s interests.

If you have joint legal custody with the other parent and there are no specific provisions in your parenting plan about who gets to make these decisions, the bottom line is that the court expects you to come to an agreement on your own. If you can’t, your option is to go to court. While the judge may order you into mediation, these situations usually end in a lengthy trial where both parents present their cases and then the judge makes the final call on what will happen.

As you navigate these new challenges that are coming up with COVID-19, you may realize that there are some specific points in your parenting plan or custody agreement that need to be amended or that there are new things you want to include. In this case, you’ll need to file a motion to go before a judge and have the agreement officially changed. If you and the other parent agree to the changes, it can be as simple as filing a joint motion. The courts generally are willing to adopt changes that both parents agree on. However, if you want something changed and the other parent doesn’t, it can mean having to go all the way through the family court system.

Keep in mind that any time you go through the family court system, it can be extremely stressful for both the parents and the children. It’s almost always best to try to come to an agreement with the other parent or try lower-conflict options, such as mediation. It’s also important to remember that both you and the other parent only have the children’s best interests at heart, and while you may have different opinions on what supports that, it can help to keep that in the back of your mind as you navigate these discussions.

5 Tips for Handling High-Conflict Coparenting

High conflict coparenting

Relationships usually don’t end peacefully, and it’s normal for couples with children to have tried everything they could to stay together. This means that by the time you get through a breakup or divorce with your children’s other parent, it can be difficult to transition into peaceful coparenting. In many cases, tensions ease over time and as everyone adjusts to the new normal, but sometimes, it can be very difficult to move forward and the parties get stuck in an ongoing cycle of conflict. The latter situations are often referred to as high-conflict cases.

Before we jump into our tips for handling high-conflict coparenting, it’s a good idea to first define what we’re talking about. Every person who is trying to coparent is bound to have communication challenges or find that what they want doesn’t line up with what the other parent thinks is best. That’s just normal coparenting. It takes compromise and lots of communication as well as both parents being focused on the needs and well-being of the children.

 In high-conflict coparenting, however, the majority of the interactions between the parents are contentious and there is little to no compromise on at least one person’s part. These aren’t just simple disagreements that crop up from time to time. It’s an ongoing pattern of conflict, with at least one party refusing to cooperate and actually coparent together. So, what do you do in those situations? Check out our tips below.

1. Take Care of Yourself

This might seem obvious, but in the midst of all the chaos and juggling that comes with being a single parent, many parents forget that they still need to focus on their own health. The better your own mental, emotional and physical health is, the more prepared you will be to handle high-conflict situations calmly and with a good perspective.

It’s important to eat nutritious food that you enjoy, get enough sleep so that you wake up feeling well rested and to remember to carve out time for your own interests and hobbies. A solid social support system is also critical. You need people to talk to about your situation and who can both listen when you need to rant and get out some frustrations and who can provide some outside perspective.

Lowering your stress levels is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your children and your entire household. While this may seem laughable if you’re trying to navigate a high-conflict coparenting situation, it’s crucial to focus on what you can control. Don’t overschedule yourself and make time for something that calms and grounds you every day.

2. Get It in Writing

You may have heard the saying in business that if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen, and this is also true for coparenting. It’s important to get any schedules, agreements or plans in writing so that there is an objective record of who was supposed to do what. If it is at all possible, it’s best for this to be an actual court order.

If you’re still working on finalizing your parenting plan, try to include everything you can think of that might possibly have to be a discussion later on. This could include who pays for private school tuition, who does the transportation to and from extracurricular activities and whether you split costs like school supplies and fees. If you already have a parenting agreement in place, it may be worth it to go back to court to try to get it amended to include the particulars for any recurring issues.

If it’s something small that wouldn’t be covered in the actual court documents, make sure to get a record of the other parent’s response and communication. Text is okay, but if you have to go to court later, texts aren’t always considered admissible. Email correspondence or communication through a coparenting app like 2houses is best. You can also do this yourself by sending the other parent an email such as, “Per our phone call today at 2 p.m., you will be taking Chris to soccer on your weekend.”

3. Use a Coparenting App

A coparenting app makes it easier to keep records for court, ensure you have agreements in writing and have everything you need all in one place. 2houses, for example, has a messaging feature that keeps track of when each parent opens and responds to the message, and it makes it so no one can delete a message and pretend like they never got it.

The other major advantage of a coparenting app is that it significantly decreases the amount of direct communication you need to have with the other parent — and, therefore, decreases the number of chances for a conflict. With 2houses, you can put the children’s schedule of appointments and extracurriculars on the calendar so you don’t have to personally notify the other parent. It also gives you a place to upload pictures and document important memories or conversations. You can even use the finance tracker to submit expenses for the other parent to pay directly through the app, lessening the amount of back and forth and automatically providing you documentation if you need to go to court.

You can download messages, expenses and anything else you need in an easy-to-use form that can then be given to your attorney or the courts, if necessary.

4. Pick Your Battles

High-conflict coparenting situations aren’t called that for no reason. It can seem like every single little thing becomes a huge issue. And it probably does — because that’s what high-conflict people do. But just because the other parent wants to make something an issue doesn’t mean you have to agree. Think about what things are actually worth responding to or intervening with, such as safety issues, and try to let the rest go.

Maybe the other parent lets the children watch TV shows or movies you don’t approve of or lets them spend more time playing games on the tablet than you would allow. In the grand scheme of things, these aren’t worth fighting about with someone who isn’t willing to actually listen to your reasoning and try to find a compromise.

5. Focus on De-escalation

Disagreements are inevitable, and when they involve your children, it’s normal for there to be heightened emotions and easily triggered tempers. High-conflict people play off of this and often purposefully try to get the other parent to react to something. They feed off of the drama and chaos.

So, what can you do? Focus on de-escalation tactics. This can involve noticing that you’re getting angry or starting to raise your voice and taking a few deep breaths to remind yourself that you don’t want to engage. It can also mean using specific strategies when talking with the other parent, such as saying, “You might be right” or “I hadn’t considered that angle” when they’re trying to argue. This doesn’t mean they are right or that their angle is a good one, but this is a strategy that can cause the other person to pause and get out of fight mode so you can then exit the conversation.

The bottom line is that you can’t control the other parent — or any other people involved — and you can only control your own actions. Stick to the court order, getting modifications as necessary, keep thorough records with a solid paper trail, and remind yourself that while you will likely never be able to be completely rid of the other parent, there will come a time when the children have grown up that you won’t have to actively coordinate with the other parent on this level.

Holiday Split Custody Arrangements: How to Celebrate Special Occasions

Holiday Split Custody Arrangements

Divorces usually end with a split. Close to 750,000 divorces occurred in the United States in 2019. Most divorces that involve children end with a split custody agreement. 

Yet split custody agreements can get a little complicated. The holidays are supposed to be times where family members get together. How to celebrate holidays after a divorce is not clear. 

How can you talk about holiday custody arrangements with your co-parent? How should you delegate custody during important holidays? What should you do about school vacations and less important occasions like Halloween? 

Answer these questions and you can help your child have fun throughout the year. Here is your comprehensive guide. 

Discussing Holiday Custody

Holiday custody agreements should accompany any custody agreement between co-parents. Once two co-parents pick a joint custody schedule, the two should work together to discuss how they will arrange the holidays. 

You do not have to craft a comprehensive plan. But you should discuss major holidays like Christmas and decide on split custody solutions. 

If you have multiple children, your solution should not split them up. They should remain together to celebrate all occasions. 

The solution should respect your and your co-parent’s living situations. You should not have to spend a large amount of money or time in order to celebrate holidays.

You should also not inconvenience your child. If one co-parent lives in another state, they can meet the custody agreement through teleconferencing. 

You may loop other members of your family into your conversations. Your child will want to spend time with their grandparents and cousins on Thanksgiving and other days. Make sure you reach an agreement with your ex so they can do so. 

Be willing to adjust your plan as time goes on. Your child’s desire to celebrate certain holidays may diminish over time. They may change their cultural values and decide to celebrate occasions like Easter. 


Nearly all children want both of their parents to celebrate their birthdays with them. You and your co-parent should have your child celebrate theirs. 

The easiest way to do this is to share the day in some capacity. If you and your co-parent are on fine terms, both of you can throw a party for your child. If you want some privacy, you can go out to dinner with your child. 

If you and your co-parent don’t want to see each other, each of you should do something for your child. They can spend the morning at your house before going to your co-parent’s house in the afternoon. 

You may buy your child presents for their birthday. But don’t compete with your co-parent on your presents.

You can alternate birthdays if you live far from your ex. Your child will celebrate one year with you, then they will celebrate the next year with your ex.

You should arrange transportation for your child well in advance. Whoever the child is going to should pay the expenses of transportation. 

Try to coordinate with them and share the expenses on one big gift for your child. Give something to your child that they can make use out of. A book is more useful than a toy or a video game. 

You can spend time with your child on your birthday. But you must allow your co-parent to spend time with them on their birthday. You can make a stipulation for this in your child custody arrangement. 

Parents’ Days

You can treat Mother’s Day and Father’s Day like any other holiday. Your child can spend time with their mother on Mother’s Day and with their father on Father’s Day. Many elementary schools have children make presents for their parents for these occasions. 

You can also treat the two days as “Parents’ Day.” This is a good solution for same-sex parents or parents who identify as genderqueer or gender non-conforming. You can divide the two days between yourselves and have your child spend one with each of you.  

There is an official Parents’ Day on the fourth Sunday of July. Your child is probably not aware of this occasion. If they are, you can split the day between the two co-parents so both of you get parenting time in. 

Three-Day Weekends

Three-day weekends include Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. These are great occasions for short vacations like camping trips. Yet they may affect weekly custody routines, as one parent may take over on Friday or Monday. 

An easy solution is to give your child an extra day with their co-parent. The other co-parent can have the day off, or they can take over on a day they would not be in charge of. 

You can also divide the three-day weekends between the two of you. One of you can take over on Memorial Day while the other takes charge of Labor Day. 

Some three-day weekends may come suddenly. School on Friday or Monday may get canceled due to inclement weather. 

Whoever has custody of your child should maintain their custody. It is too dangerous to transport your child from one house to another during a snowstorm or power outage.

The Holiday Season 

The holiday season can be a very difficult time to navigate. Sit down with your co-parent in advance and work through what you both need to do. Determine what your arrangements will be for the season and how you will cover expenses.

Most children want to see both of their parents for Thanksgiving. It can be tricky for each parent to do their own Thanksgiving dinner. 

What you can do is send your child to their grandparents or cousins. Both of you can then share expenses for one meal and join with them. 

You can do something similar for Christmas. You can send your child to a third party and have both of you visit with them there. 

If you and your co-parent celebrate different December holidays, you can split them. Your child can go to one parent for Christmas and another for Hanukkah or the winter solstice. You can have them go to you for New Year’s Eve and the other co-parent for New Year’s Day. 

Follow good tips on co-parenting during the holidays. Your child may feel lonely or confused during the holiday season. They may ask questions about why they cannot see both of their parents at once. 

Answer your child’s questions without providing too much detail. Affirm your child and tell them that both of you love them. Feel free to coordinate on presents and other special gifts. 

School Vacations 

Each school district is different. Look at the school district schedule before you make any determinations for splitting custody. 

Nearly all districts make a four-day weekend out of Thanksgiving. You can maintain your custody schedule on that weekend. 

Most districts have a winter vacation in December. School usually adjourns on December 23 and reopens on January 2.

You can also maintain your usual custody schedule, though you should minimize disruptions on the holidays. Your child may transition between the two of you on Fridays, yet Christmas Eve is on a Friday.

You can delay until Sunday so the child can celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the same house. Follow good tips on how to handle custody exchange day smoothly. These tips are especially important for holiday weekends.  

Most districts have a spring vacation. This is one week off from school that occurs in March or April. 

This is a time when many parents want to take their children on vacation. A co-parent can do so. But they should talk with their other co-parent and make arrangements so the child can go on vacations with both. 

Some districts have a February vacation with one week off. This gives co-parents an opportunity to split vacations. One parent maintains custody in February while the other maintains it in April. 

Family Events

Family events include weddings, funerals, and baby showers. For the most part, you can split these events based on your relationship with them. 

If a wedding is occurring on your side of the family, you can take your child to it without your co-parent. If they want to go, they can while you maintain the custody of your child.  

This must be transactional. When an occasion happens on your co-parent’s side of the family, you must let them take your child to it. It is important that your child maintain connections with all of their family members. 

Attending the same events as your ex may be awkward. You do not have to talk to them if you do not want to. 

But both of you should attend important events, especially weddings and funerals. You do not want to form a rift between yourself and the hosts. You can talk to them about your ex and ask for seating arrangements so you don’t contact them. 

Do not use family events to introduce your partner. Try to make introductions on smaller occasions and talk to your ex about bringing your partner to an event.  

Other Holidays

Independence Day occurs every July 4th. This means that the holiday may fall in the middle of the week or create a three-day weekend.

Though it is not as important as the winter holidays, your child may want to see both parents on that day. Try to arrange things so both of you can spend time with your child. One of you can host a barbeque at lunch while the other takes your child for fireworks. 

If one co-parent has a military background, they can take custody of your child on Veterans Day. It can fall on a Monday or Friday, so you can turn it into a three-day weekend. They can do the same for military holidays like Flag Day

Your arrangements for Halloween should be particular to your child. If your child does not care about Halloween, you do not have to make a holiday out of it. 

But if your child does care, you should both be involved. If possible, both of you can go with your child for trick-or-treating. You can go together, or you can split the occasion. 

More and more people are celebrating Halloween through October. This gives you a way to split the holiday. One of you can celebrate with your child on October 31st while another celebrates on a different day. 

New Traditions

Every co-parent should learn how to create new family traditions after a separation. This may involve creating new holidays. In general, the parent who comes with the new holiday should celebrate it with their child.

But the other parent should have equal time. They can come up with a new holiday to celebrate with the child. If they don’t have their own holiday, they should get an extra day to spend with their child. 

You or your co-parent may find a partner from a different culture. They may have occasions that they would like to celebrate. 

It may be appropriate to allow your child to commemorate these holidays. But both co-parents need to be okay with the new traditions. A child should not be made to participate in holidays they don’t want to celebrate. 

New religious traditions may be difficult to navigate. Some religions do not accommodate divorced parents.

You and your co-parent should have a conversation about your child’s participation in religious ceremonies. If one of you is not comfortable with it, your child should not participate unless they really want to. 

How to Split Custody for the Holidays

You and your co-parent can work out a holiday split custody arrangement. Talk about the holidays as you draft a custody schedule. 

Both of you should celebrate your child’s birthday. Each of you can spend time with them on their birthday, or each of you can host a party. You can also send them to a relative’s house and pay them a visit. 

You should do something similar for major holidays like Thanksgiving. You can handle weeklong vacations and less important holidays individually. 

Get tools to help you with co-parenting. 2houses provides co-parenting apps. Sign up today. 

What to Do if Your Co-parent Is a Narcissist: Your Comprehensive Guide

What to Do if Your Co-parent Is a Narcissist

Narcissism is a major problem. 1% to 15% of the population suffers from narcissism. Some people have narcissistic personality disorder, while others struggle with some narcissistic symptoms. 

Narcissism becomes an even worse problem when it comes to split custody. A narcissistic co-parent can make the separation and parenting processes far harder than they need to be. Yet you can get help. 

What exactly is narcissism? How can narcissism impact a person’s parenting, and how can you help your child? What should you do to keep a narcissistic co-parent from affecting your life? 

Answer these questions and you can be an effective co-parent in spite of your ex. Here is your comprehensive guide. 

The Basics of Narcissism 

A personality disorder is a mental disorder. A person with one has patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy or destructive. They may be aware of the consequences of their actions, yet they cannot change them. 

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) impacts a person’s ego. They have a larger-than-normal sense of self-importance and skills. 

A person may exaggerate their achievements, including lying about successes in their life. They may be preoccupied with their fantasies of success and power. They may believe they are special and refuse to associate with any “normal” people. 

At the same time, they may come across as insecure. They may perform stunts so people will give them attention. They may fish for compliments or ask for approval repeatedly. 

Signs of Narcissism 

A person can come across as narcissistic in many different ways. They may come across as intelligent and capable during initial conversations. During first dates, they may shower their partner with signs of love and affection. 

Yet as time goes on, they may express an idealized view of their partner. This may come across as flattering, but it can also be arrogant. The person with NPD may say that the two of them are more special than everyone else. 

The person with NPD may prioritize their needs over the needs of their partner. They may stay for longer hours at work, or they may ask their partner for special favors. 

If the two go through a divorce, the person with NPD may insist on longer hours for child custody. They may also insist on having a greater share of the marital property. 

They may attack their ex in court, insisting that they are not fit to be a parent. They may initiate confrontations and enjoy how they make their ex and child upset. 

Keep in mind that the signs of NPD overlap with those of other mental health conditions. Bipolar disorder can lead to someone feeling egocentric or pulling stunts for attention. 

A person can have NPD and another mental health condition. They can also develop a substance abuse disorder. They may abuse a substance to cope with their lack of attention or to soothe their insecurities. 

How Narcissism Can Affect Parenting 

NPD can affect a person’s style of parenting in a few different ways. If you have a narcissistic ex-husband or a narcissistic ex-wife, you need to understand how they function as a parent. Monitor them closely and adjust your parenting style so you can support your child. 

The Achievement-Obsessed Co-parent

A narcissistic co-parent may be obsessed with their child’s achievements. They may insist that their child be the best, including through their physical appearance.

They may praise their child, but only when they accomplish something. When the child does something wrong, they may criticize them harshly. They may neglect their child when they need help because they don’t want to see their child as weak. 

The Self-Obsessed Parent 

The parent may demand admiration from their child. They cannot tolerate any disagreement or criticism. They praise their child when they follow their orders, but they scorn them when they disagree. 

Children with self-obsessed parents have low self-esteem. They may denigrate themselves and refuse to take leadership positions at school. 

The Prioritizing Parent 

Someone with NPD who has multiple children may prioritize one child over the rest. This child may have skills that their siblings do not have. They shower this child with praise while neglecting everyone else. 

The prioritized child may have mixed feelings about this. They may feel guilty that they are receiving more praise than the other children. They may become confused when they don’t receive praise at school or at work. 

Their siblings may lose self-esteem. They may distance themselves from the prioritized child, forming a rift in the family. 

The Abusive Parent 

Not all parents with NPD are necessarily abusive. Yet there are parents whose narcissism leads them to physical and sexual abuse. 

They may regard their children as servants. When they act out of line, they use physical force in order to get their way. They may engage in sexual behaviors with their children due to a lack of empathy. 

Set Your Boundaries 

Once you understand how your narcissistic co-parent is behaving, you can understand how you should behave. Unless your co-parent is abusive to you or your children, you should interact with them. Remaining in communication will make things like dividing school-related expenses easier. 

Yet you do not have to be in constant communication with your ex. Establish times during which you will not talk to them, even if they reach out to them. 

Establish what you will and will not talk about. You can limit your conversation to the welfare of your child or to finances. You can avoid talking about everything else. 

You are not obliged to speak to your co-parent if you both attend an event. Make it clear to them that you will not communicate with them at the venue. If they try to talk to you, say something like, “I don’t want to talk with you right now, but I hope you have a good night.” 

If you do meet with your co-parent, bring someone with you. They can monitor the conversation and end it if it stops being productive. 

If your co-parent has a partner, your boundaries should apply to them. You should not communicate with them unless something requires their attention. You should also avoid talking to your co-parent’s family members, including their parents and siblings.

They may become a stepmom or stepfather to their partner’s child. It is not your place to intervene with that relationship. Focus on your own child. 

Split Custody With a Good Parenting Plan 

All separated parents need to make a parenting plan. This will make co-parenting far easier and create a smoother separation process. 

You can follow most traditional tips for writing a parenting plan. You should have conversations with your ex during which you break down aspects of parenting. You should decide how you will divide parenting time and important responsibilities. 

You can talk to a lawyer. You can also find a mediator or a third party who will help you come to a mutual consensus. If you do not want to talk directly to your ex, you can have your attorney talk on your behalf. 

Keep the priority on your child. Figure out where they are going to live and attend school. Devise ways of covering their expenses, including food and clothing. 

If you do not want your co-parent to have custody, you should stand your ground. Go to court and propose options for a visitation schedule.

You can also divide physical custody while you have full legal custody. You can receive spousal or child support if you need it. 

Consider Parallel Parenting 

Parallel parenting is the best parenting model for divorced parents who don’t want to see each other. It is good for any situation involving a co-parent who has a mental illness. 

Both parents will be involved in raising their children. One parent may have visitation rights only.

Yet the two interact on limited occasions. They may see each other when one parent drops off the child. They may communicate with each other during an emergency. 

But that is the full extent of their interactions. One parent raises the child their way, and the other raises them their way. In effect, each parent serves as a single mom or a single dad. 

Parallel parenting will prevent your narcissistic co-parent from harming you. Yet you should be attentive to your child. If it seems like your co-parent’s parenting style is harming your child, you should intervene. 

Be Calm

Many people with NPD like to feed off other people’s emotions. They may instigate a conflict just to make the other person upset. This is especially the case with people they do not like. 

Do not take the bait that your co-parent is throwing out there. When they make a comment you do not appreciate, take a deep breath and respond without emotion. 

Never make a personal attack on your co-parent. Yelling at them may escalate the situation.  

When you need to let emotions out, you should do so. Once you are done talking with your co-parent, head outside and find some catharsis. 

Dodge Narcissist Triggers

A person with NPD may become triggered. A stunt they made for attention may have gone unnoticed. Someone may have caught them breaking a rule, or they may have suffered a setback in their personal life. 

This can cause their symptoms to become worse. They may fly into a rage, threatening other people and using violence to get their way. This rage can occur with minimal warning. 

Make sure you do not trigger your narcissistic ex. Do not bring up anything personal in your conversations with them, especially about their romantic life.

Whenever you are concerned about the welfare of your child, you should contact someone. You do not have to call the police if you don’t want to. You can ask a friend, relative, or crisis center to check in to make sure everything is okay. 

Affirm Your Child 

Don’t let your co-parent distract you from your child. Spend plenty of time with them. Engage in their hobbies and help them with their schoolwork. 

Praise your child when they do something right. But console them if something goes wrong or if they make a mistake. Work with them on how they can improve their skill so they don’t make the same mistake again. 

If they do something wrong, you can discipline them. But don’t go over the top. You can give them a timeout, but don’t take away food or water from them. 

You can have conversations with your child about their well-being. Yet you should not make it about the co-parent. Ask them to focus on themselves, their feelings, and their health.

Be attentive to the signs of child abuse. Contact someone if you notice several signs in any child, including ones you don’t have custody of. 

Think About Counseling 

Parenting in and of itself is stressful. Delegate plenty of time for self-care. Attend to your hobbies, talk to your friends, and find personal fulfillment in some way. 

You can talk to a mental health counselor if you find you have a lot of stress. Come up with some solutions to handle your personal problems. Devise some tips to cope with your anxiety

You may need to take medications. This does not make you weak. Medications can mitigate your symptoms and help you become a better parent. 

Do not recommend that your co-parent get counseling. They may take this as a sign of disrespect. But you can recommend counseling to other family members who may benefit from it. 

Deal With a Narcissistic Co-parent

You can split custody with a narcissistic co-parent. They may come across as arrogant, haughty, and self-centered. This can lead them to neglect or even abuse a child. 

Enforce hard boundaries with your co-parent. Avoid personal or emotional conversations with them. This has the added benefit of avoiding narcissistic triggers. 

Draft a good parenting plan and consider parallel parenting. Affirm your child and make sure they are doing well. Get yourself self-care so you combat your anxiety. 

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