In many ways, effective co-parenting after divorce is no different then effectively doing so during the marriage: Parents should continue to share parental responsibilities according to their capabilities, interests, and resources (i.e. time).
I have been specializing in mediating custody arrangements for close to 20 years in which former partners share custody and parenting 50/50 – straight down the middle. Although I will be the first to admit that these arrangements are not suitable or appropriate for all families of divorce, I know dozens of couples who are making this work and doing it well.
I recently checked in with two of my former clients, Ken (a contractor) and Barb (a website designer (no, these are not their real names). Ken and Barb divorced five years ago. Their two sons are now ages 9 and 11. Even though they have moved on emotionally and are now involved with new partners, Ken and Barb have chosen to live within a mile from each other. The boys easily and safely ride bikes or skateboards between the two homes.
The boys are with Ken (sometimes sleeping at Ken’s house, sometimes not) every Monday and Tuesday, and every other weekend. Barb has the boys every Wednesday and Thursday, and every other weekend. Yes, if you count the days on a calendar, this is a 50/50 schedule. They have all adapted well to this schedule, which has been consistent, predictable, and stable for the boys.
But what happens behind the scenes by these two parents is far more important than the implementation of their 50/50 schedule (or any schedule they might choose to follow). At least once a week Ken and Barb talk on the phone to discuss what’s going on with the boys. They go over their schedules, what’s happening at school, on the soccer field, and any upcoming doctor or orthodontist appointments.
Barb can leave work when she wants to. So regardless of whose day it is with the kids, Barb usually arranges for and handles all of the doctor and orthodontist appointments. Ken is an assistant coach on the boy’s soccer team. So he is usually in charge of getting the boys to their practices and games. Also, Ken is off work at 3:30 p.m. during the week, while Barb often stays late to meet with clients in the evening. So on most days, Ken is in charge of picking up the boys from school and keeping an eye on them until Barb finishes work.
During mediation, in most cases, I urge my clients to focus less energy on the visitation or time sharing schedule they will follow with their kids. Instead, I encourage parents to explore ways to handle the day-to-day sharing of parental decisions and responsibilities. Like Ken and Barb, I believe that divorced parents should attempt to share parental responsibilities according to their capabilities, interests, and resources (i.e. time).
INNOVATIVE DIVORCE SOLUTIONS
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
We are divorce mediation experts, serving families throughout Utah. For a free initial consultation, or to answer your questions about mediation or the divorce process in Utah, please call us at (801) 633-1361, or visit www.innovativedivorcesolutions.com