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After making the initial decision to divorce, the people involved need to make additional decisions about the future. If they are parents, any future plans must include arrangements for parenting their children. In a co-parenting situation, both parents share the responsibilities involved in raising their children.

A possession order outlines when the children will spend time with each parent. A standard possession order, or SPO, provides a guide for how to divide the child’s time between the parents and maintain stability in his or her life. Courts generally order parents to follow this parenting plan.

Creating a different schedule

Parents can decide on a schedule that is different from the one that the SPO describes. Both parents, however, must agree to this new plan. They must, in addition, be able to enforce it themselves because the court will not. If one parent decides that the alternative schedule is not feasible, they both must then abide by the original court-ordered agreement.

Addressing the holidays

In order to avoid disagreements, parents can address holiday plans when they develop the schedule. Parents have several options for visiting with their children during holiday breaks. If they choose alternating years, the children will spend the entire holiday break with one parent, and the next year, they will spend it with the other.

Parents could also divide the break in half so that they can each spend equal time with their children. In addition, parents could plan a joint visit in order to allow everyone to celebrate together.

Accommodating children’s preferences

Judges consider many factors, with an emphasis on the children’s best interests, when determining living arrangements following a divorce. If the children involved are older than the age of 12, the court might consider their wishes regarding where they will live. Parents can allow their children to have some input as they develop the schedule for how to divide the children’s time.

Once the parents have agreed on a general, fixed plan, they can incorporate some flexibility by giving their children a choice on certain days. The children can decide which parent they will stay with on those designated days.

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