Co-Parenting With Flexible Schedule, Making Divorce Easier

Jessica Terry has been divorced from her husband. For her, custody arrangements may change while children grow up. "My oldest, who is almost 13, is getting to an age where she doesn't want to go to her dad's every weekend because she wants to be with her friends," Jessica said as cited on The Star. There has apparently been lots of compromising on both parties.

A psychologist and internationally acclaimed expert on the subject of co-parenting after divorce, Dr. Robert Emery would want to see divorced parents bring to rearing their children after a relationship as married couple ends. Emery's book entitled "Two Homes, One Childhood: A Parenting Plan to Last a Lifetime" essentially implores parents to formulate win-win parenting plans to their children's changing needs as cited on Emery on Divorce. The book will be out this August.

"Parents who arrive at an agreement in traditional ways - through lawyers, through courts - once you finally get to a schedule, people can just be locked into it because they don't want to go through it all again," Emery said. "But if you arrive at it in a more flexible and fluid way, through mediation or at your kitchen table, you're more likely to achieve a schedule that will adapt over time," the professor added.

And this is particularly significant considering that kids may have far different needs during infancy than they actually do in toddlerhood, and so in their early school years and into their teenage years.

"Two Homes, One Childhood" is essentially founded on the ideas found in Dr Emery's first book entitled "The Truth About Children and Divorce". But it certainly comes with a lot more practical details on how to develop efficient parenting plans as well as create schedules in age-appropriate ways.

However, co-parenting becomes tedious and challenging especially when both parents, living in separate houses, try to figure out how to address the needs of their child who is still an infant, most especially since a breastfeeding relationship most likely tethers the child to one parent.

But instead, a parenting plan could allow for more time when the child turns 9- month old. Yet more time again when the child is 12-month old, and quite a bit more when the child becomes 18-month old and even a whole lot more when he reaches three years old, according to Emery.

While her children were well past the baby and toddler stages respectively during the separation, Kimberley Healey-Fernandez, a mother of three, could hardly stand the idea of being locked into a set schedule.

"In our separation papers, we left the parenting plan fairly vague so we could shift and flow with the needs of the kids. It's primarily set so neither parent has to be away from the kids for more than three days at a time unless a vacation is scheduled," Kimberly said. She chose to stay in the matrimonial residence situated close to the school. Although their parenting agreement directs that the kids should be with her 60% of the time, Kim and her ex-husband have decided to keep it loose.

"If the kids have events or schoolwork that are super important, they can choose to stay with me. It was important to both of us not to have a strict and rigid arrangement," Kimberly said. "I didn't want a piece of paper dictating when I could and couldn't see my children," the Toronto mom added.

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