Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Work with your ex to create the ideal parenting plan this fall

September is a month of transition for your kids. The open freedom of summer gets replaced by school schedules and activities. Life becomes much more structured.

If you and your ex are getting divorced, the changes must fit with both of your schedules. You can feel them more drastically than during your marriage.

The key to getting through this process is to have the right parenting plan in place. It's best for you and your ex to work together on this. You don't have to rely on the court. Sit down and hash out the best possible plan for your kids. Put them first at all times.

Below are a few tips that can help.

1. Create backup plans.

Things change. Plans fail. The unexpected happens. Have a backup plan.

For instance, maybe your ex picks the kids up from school since he or she typically works from home and has the flexibility to get there early. What happens if your ex is sick? What if he or she gets called into the office unexpectedly? Having a backup plan ready to go eliminates stress and worry.

2. Consider transportation.

Kids need an incredible amount of transportation as they grow up. They're old enough to have football practice after school and band trips on the weekends, but they're not old enough to drive. Just hanging out with friends can mean extra trips across town. Don't forget about transportation when determining where the kids will go and whom they'll go with.

3. Plan for school breaks.

As an adult, your work schedule is pretty much the same every day, every week. Remember that kids have vastly more flexible schedules. Plan around all of their breaks and days off. If they're too young to be home alone, someone will need to watch them. Transportation needs change. There are many factors to consider. Don't just set up a standard weekly schedule and assume it will work for every week, all year long.

4. Talk about when you need to talk.

When a change happens, does your ex have an obligation to talk to you? Do you have the same obligation with him or her? Talk about this in advance to avoid fights down the road.

For instance, your ex has the kids all week, picking them up from school. Then he or she finds out that there is a half day for a teachers' conference. Your ex has to work, so he or she quickly calls a babysitter. Do you have a say in who your ex hires to watch the kids?

The more planning you can do in advance, the better. Parenting plans can address scheduling, legal issues and much more, so they're incredibly valuable and help the school year go smoothly.

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