As much as Texas residents would like to believe they can simply pick up and move on after their marriage has ended, this clean break is not entirely possible if the couple had children. Even though the couple’s legal relationship with one another is finished, they are still going to consult one another with regards to decisions about the children. And, research has demonstrated time and time again that co-parenting is the best approach to raise children after a divorce.

Shared parenting, as it is also called, is when the parents are working with one another, as a team, to raise the children after their marriage has ended. It helps children get through what may be the most difficult time in their life, by giving them the love and support they need from both parents. Communication is key in co-parenting — not only to avoid conflicts about visitation schedules, but also for children to see that their parents continue to respect one another.

A parenting plan can be beneficial in this situation. It can be either a formal, legal document or an informal document, in which both parents outline how time will be spent with them. Some of the basic elements a plan can include are — the normal visitation schedule of the children with each parent, division of important holiday and vacation time, determination of the person responsible for day-to-day decisions and important ones and the division of costs of extracurricular activities. Including the method of changing the parenting plan and how the resolution of a future conflict will take place, within the parenting plan, can help avoid conflict and disagreement in the future.

Just because a divorced couple has not made a parenting plan does not mean they cannot enter into one later and simple because one is made does not mean it cannot be altered. An experienced divorce attorney can help parents create a plan that allocates parenting time in the child’s best interests.