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Going through a divorce can turn your entire life upside down. As a parent, you’re especially worried about how this upheaval will affect your children.

The best way to help your kids through this difficult time is to create a strong parenting plan that prioritizes your child’s needs. A parenting plan outlines the details of your custody agreement with your ex-spouse while also providing details on how you plan to raise your children. There are four crucial factors to remember when creating your plan.

#1 – Listen to your kids

Children have their own worries when they see their parents go through a divorce. Young children might not understand the scope of the situation but can still feel the strain of a family coming apart. Talk to your child about everything and encourage them to express their feelings.

You shouldn’t involve children in every aspect of the divorce, but you can allow them to speak up where it matters. Older children especially might have legitimate concerns regarding custody or schedules that you can take into consideration.

#2 – Create a schedule

A schedule is one of the main pieces of a parenting plan. As you and your ex-spouse share time with your children, a schedule is the best way to keep everyone on the same page.

Build a schedule that is manageable for not only the children but for you and your ex-spouse as well. Determine who will have custody of the kids at what time and don’t forget important holidays or long school breaks.

#3 – Parental responsibilities

Each parent is responsible for their child’s growth, comfort, and happiness. Parents are also responsible for many other things – some of which might not seem important when you’re making your plan. However, little details can be crucial. Which parent should be responsible for doctor’s visits? Which parent will attend parent-teacher conferences?

Answering these questions at the start can help both of you out in the future.

#4 – Communication methods

The key to any co-parenting situation is communication. Without open and friendly communication, there can be misunderstandings and conflicts, which can only add more trouble to an already stressful situation.

If you and your ex-spouse struggle to communicate effectively in person, you can decide to keep as much interaction over the phone or through email instead. Figuring out what works best for the two of you can help you stay connected when you need to discuss important details about your children.