There are many different ways to slice a divorce, especially for parting parents. Custody, alimony, child support, not to mention the essential division of wealth. But in the long term, the factor that matters most in a divorce is practical flexibility. A divorce agreement that lasts and solves problems (instead of creating them) is one with sensible guidelines where any number of co-parenting situations can occur. Because the one fact of life is that things change. You need a divorce agreement that can change with the times while still enforcing a fair and reasonable separation of your once-shared life.
One of the best ways to design a flexible divorce is to look forward and predict the more common life changes that co-parents face. Let’s take a look at the top five.
The Schedule Will Change, By Necessity
A lot of divorce custody agreements focus heavily on the weekly or monthly schedule. You get the kids on Monday through Wednesday, I get them from Thursay through Sunday, and we’ll hand off exactly at Noon at the little Chinese place we both still like. But lives change, and so do your schedules. what happens when your child’s soccer practice starts happening on different night? Or when they take up the clarinet adding a whole new obstacle to the schedule?
Your schedule could change, too, and so could your ex’s. Promotions, new jobs, family tragedies, and other life changes have a way of changing the once-perfect schedule. So build a divorce with schedule or even-split guidelines without hinging your entire peace on Wednesdays vs Thursdays, or even Easter vs Thanksgiving.
Your Children Will Grow Up
Strict and rigid divorces also tend to neglect the simple fact that children change as they get older. Their interests change, their priorities change, and — as mentioned — their schedules change drastically. Teens have a way of changing rapidly, often several times before they settle into a more stable young adult, and you’ll be dealing with custody every step of the way.
Brace yourself for new interests, attitudes, and lessons. A huge variety of schedule changes. Children’s changes need to be acceptable and your divorce agreement should adapt to that.
You or Your Ex Moving for a New Job
New jobs have a way of turning your entire life on your head. When drafting your divorce, remember to ask yourself “What if I get an opportunity for my dream job across the country? What if the same happened to my ex? How would custody work then?” Even in less extreme cases, a new job can completely change the shape of your life.
You might be assigned to night hours, but at a great new salary. You might be asked to move far away, or even just a few hours away. You might have to start traveling for work, or you might need to be ‘on call’ extensively available to work at any moment. Or the same could happen dot your ex. Your custody agreement needs room for things like moving out of state or even changing the balance of custody by necessity without any penalties. After all, everyone should be free to pursue their career.
The Whole Ordeal of New Romantic Partners
Eventually, you and your ex will each find someone new to love and be loved by. One of you will start dating first. One of you will find a long-term thing first. Every stage will drive you both crazy, one way or another. Modern couples with their heads on straight know to brace for this stage. And if either of you are lucky, there will eventually be a special someone who loves the kids and wants to become a third or even fourth co-parent.
Your divorce agreement needs to be prepared for that idea. In fact, you’re likely to see less potential future conflict or fight for custody from step-parents if their rights are outlined in the initial custody agreement. You can, in one thoughtful stroke of a pen, ensure that your future partner will have reasonable step-parent rights and that your ex’s future partners can’t colonize your kids. Trust us, this covers some poignant future bases.
The “I Wanna Live With Mom/Dad” Phase
Finally, there’s the phase every divorcing parent should prepare for like a bomb dropping. The unpredictable point in time when your teenager decides they’d be happier living with the other parent. Some kids go through this once or twice profoundly. Some turn it into a manipulative art form. It’s the ultimate evolution of the “asking dad when mom says no” ploy and a common psychological phase teens of divorce go through.
If there is a primary physical custody parent, then the less present parent becomes the concept of freedom and unconditional love. Or, at least, ‘Anything’s better than here’. Or the favorite parent will be whichever isn’t in disfavor today.
If your kids make a strong and rational argument about why they want to try living with the other parent, listen. And if they just scream it when they’re mad, call your ex just in case. But either way, your divorce agreement can absolutely be built with special ‘Teen-Swapping’ policies that will help unify your parenting style and prevent undue confusion that sometimes occurs when teens ‘run away’ to their non-custodial parent.
Building your divorce agreement is best done with an eye toward the future. For more information about how to customize your divorce to fit your real future needs and lifestyles, contact us today. Our Boca Raton family and divorce law team is ready to listen.