After Divorce: Implementing the Joint Custody Schedule for Success

Your divorce is final. You have joint custody with your ex-spouse. The parenting plan that has taken countless hours for agreement is a legal document signed by a judge. Now the work begins. You need to set in place a way to implement the parenting plan as efficiently and quickly as possible. This needs to be accomplished with the least disruption to your child's lifestyle and in a way that the transition to two households from one is as healthy and as smooth as possible.

The starting point is to use the parenting plan as a blueprint to reorganize your family's structure, activities and obligations. The goal is to focus on the kids and their needs and allow co-parents to communicate with the least amount of conflict.

It is difficult to organize children's schedules especially between two parties with their newly structured households and to devise a tool to communicate between co-parents that did not see eye-to-eye in the first place. A hard-working calendar that schedules custody dates, holiday/visitation dates, vacations, school dates/activities, medical appointments, etc. may be a good starting point. Several online tools are available: Google Calendar, Our Family Wizard, JointParents and OPTIMAL are possibilities to consider. However, try out other services to find one that's best for you or if you are computer savvy, devise one yourself.

The Working Calendar:

� Schedule custody, visitation and holiday dates, as well as any other dates stated on the parenting plan;

� Add school activities – sporting events, choir, band, teacher's conferences, and any other school and after-school activities;

� Add medical appointments;

� To this note transportation to and from activities;

� Add the cost of the activities;

� Keep the calendar flexible; it is a working calendar that is to be updated on an ongoing basis; and

� On the last three items, some find it beneficial to incorporate a message board and expense log rather than to note on the calendar.

You worked hard with your attorney and your ex-spouse to arrive at a well-drafted parenting plan. The next step is to reorganize your family and adjust to the plan in an efficient and timely manner. The transition from a marital relationship to one of co-parents is challenging, but doing so and establishing stability for your children is key. After all it's a new life for all. Make it good.

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