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Co-parenting is a difficult journey, make sure you're prepared

Co-parenting is a difficult journey for both parents and for the children. Simply learning how to navigate the new way of doing things is a big adjustment. One way that you can make this a bit easier is to get everything planned out and put in writing as early in the process as possible.

There are a few things that you need to think about when you are trying to come up with an agreement. Going through each of these individually can ensure that everything is covered. Here are a few categories to get you started:

The money

Make sure that you determine who is going to be responsible for which expenses. The plan needs to include who is going to cover the cost at first and then whether the other parent needs to repay a portion. Discussing how the repayment will be made now can take away some of the stress later.

The time

Creating a schedule for who is going to have the children is imperative. This can be as detailed or as lax as what you feel it needs to be. Covering holidays and other important days is important. You might find that you come up with a plan now but that it doesn't work out in the future. Stay honest with yourself about how things are working so that you can figure out how to change them so they are better suited for the situation in the future.

The communication

Setting up the precedent now for how you and your ex will communicate is another important part of the parenting plan. You likely won't be able to cover all the bases, but you can at least get the framework going. Discuss what types of quick communication, such as texting or instant messaging, might be appropriate. No matter what, don't stoop to using the kids as a go-between since this can have a negative impact on the children and the message might not get through as intended.

The decisions

Determine who needs to make decisions for the children. Some of them might need to be made as a team and others might be left to one parent. Go category by category to decide on how they will be handled. You might need to handle health care decisions differently from education decisions.

Throughout this process, you need to remember that your children are the ones who have to be in the heart of the matter. Don't let the focus slide away from this focal point.

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