Creating a parenting plan for your children is one of the most important things you’ll do during your divorce. The parenting plan that you and your co-parent decide on will set the foundation for your new, separate households. It’s important to give this a lot of thought and consideration, and to take advantage of as many resources as you can. One of the best resources to use is a child specialist. Ask your family law attorney if they have any local recommendations. You and your co-parent can schedule meetings with this expert either together or separately, depending on your comfort level. The purpose of working with this specialist is to gain insight on the developmental needs of your children in order to create a parenting plan that will best serve them. They will have specific training and insight on your child’s current developmental needs, and how those needs will change in the coming years. Your attorney is going to be very involved in the creation of your parenting plan. They have likely seen hundreds of families through this same process and will therefore be able to give you a lot of guidance and advice on the different options available to you in the creation of a parenting plan. However, your attorney does not have specific training and education regarding the developmental needs of children. What they can do is help you take the information you’ve gathered from an expert and mold that into a workable plan.
It’s very important to consider how time will affect your parenting plan. The divorce process is taxing on all involved, it’s hard to picture your life in the coming years when there are still so many moving pieces. An expert can help encourage forward-thinking when it comes to the kids and bring up future changes and concerns that you may not have thought of yourself. The parenting plan needed for your 3-year-old is likely to be very different than what will work best when your child is 8. Parenting plans can be modified in the future, but it will save you a lot of money (and potentially conflict) to anticipate those changes now and incorporate them into the current plan. A child specialist can help explain what developmental changes you should anticipate and your attorney will find mechanisms to address those future changes within the parenting plan.
Getting this expert on board early is a great idea- they can help with much more than the drafting of a parenting plan. You can also discuss with them the best methods of communicating with your child about the divorce, and they can help you understand and manage any behavioral challenges that may result from the divorce. The expense of adding an expert into the fold is often made up for by the benefits they provide in terms of minimizing conflict and acrimony between parties- which is often much higher when there are children involved. Parties who involve a child specialist tend to be more similarly aligned regarding the best interests of their children. The best thing you can do for your child during this season of life is ensure that their interests remain the focus of the process. A child specialist can help tremendously with this, and may be one of the best investments you make during the divorce process.