Parenting your children across two households is not for the faint of heart! It requires more intentional communication and coordination between you and your co-parent than it did when you lived under one roof. Even in the best of times it can be logistically challenging.
In addition, if you or your co-parent are still working through hurt feelings from the loss of your marriage, it is easy to trigger each other to old patterns of relating that are unproductive. Then what? How can you find a new way through the old emotional minefields so that you can show up in needed ways for your kids?
While your Parenting Plan focuses on the needs and interests of your children, the Relationship Plan focuses on your individual needs and preferences as a co-parent and how they can best be met within your co-parent partnership. It helps you define the parameters of your relationship going forward as distinct from having been spouses.
The Relationship Plan itself is a document that derives from a guided process of listening and discussion between you and your co-parent.
Among the topics you will discuss:
- The amount of contact you plan to have with one another and what forms it will take; and
- The topics that you each consider appropriate to talk about and the ones you feel are off limits; and
- The ways in which you and your co-parent commonly trigger each other to be emotionally reactive and what could be done to lessen these occurrences; and
- The boundaries and expectations you have of your co-parent; and
- How you will create a step-by-step plan to talk about issues on which you disagree that keeps conversation productive and helps you get to agreements you can live with.
In short, while completing a Relationship Plan is not a legal requirement of your divorce, it is a valuable skill-building process that strengthens your ability to co-parent and honor your Parenting Plan agreements.