When you file for divorce, you might fantasize about permanently and fully washing your hands of your ex. However, when you have kids together, you are going to work together, likely for the rest of your life, in order to raise happy and healthy children.

While it can be tempting to sit back and let the courts figure out the best way to handled parenting time and other parental responsibilities, New Jersey prefers that parents work together to create their own parenting plan in the best interest of their kids.

Making your own parenting plan gives you more control over the terms. It can also help you and your ex reduce the costs of your divorce by making child custody a collaborative, not litigated, process. What do you need to consider if you and your ex want to make your own parenting plan?

Consider the skills and responsibilities of each parent, as well as the needs of each child

Some parents determine that they want an even split of parental responsibility, which leads them to alternate weeks with the children going from house to house every other week. While that can be a straightforward way to handle shared custody, it may not be feasible for parents with professional responsibilities or children with special needs.

You need to look closely at the specific and unique factors for your family and try to incorporate those needs in the decisions you make about how to split up parenting time and parental responsibilities. In some cases, having one parent play a large role in the summer or in the evenings will make more sense. You want to set terms that both parents can make work in the long run.

Plan for current and future needs

If your children are both preschool-age currently, there will be different considerations for your parenting responsibilities then they would be for children who are teenagers. While you can’t predict every unique need your family will develop in the future as your children grow, you can at least address the more generic concerns that will arrive in future years.

Agreeing on a limit to screen time and what requirements you want to have for a child who asks to participate in sports now will make it easier for you to address these parenting issues together when they arise later.