Parenting after divorce is a challenging and complex job. Trying to parent your children with the person you no longer love gives new meaning to the word difficult. An important truth to remember on this topic is that there is no right way to do it. There is only the right way for your family and your unique circumstances.
Take for example a recent Washington Post story, and the situation this family now finds themselves in.
One family's unique approach to co-parenting
Four years ago one woman found herself separating from her husband - when he left her for his pregnant mistress. The pair have two teenage children together. The husband lives in a different state with his new partner and child, but travels nearly five hours each way every weekend to spend time with his first two children.
Currently, ex-mom, dad and children still share a home on weekends. This arrangement didn't happen immediately. The pain and anger was very raw and real for the wife. She initially barred her husband from entering their home. His weekend visits with the children were tense and uncomfortable for everyone.
Eventually, the wife came to realize that allowing her spouse back into the home on weekends nurtured his relationship with their children, which helped them cope with the separation and the changes in their lives.
It should not be a big surprise to you that the wife's initial approval of this arrangement came at great emotional expense, but her motivation was the happiness and best interests of her children. It still is not easy, but for now, this arrangement is what best supports those goals.
Unusual and creative parenting plans
Though unusual, the couple's arrangement is not the only one of its kind. These days, many former couples are choosing to design parenting plans with an eye to their specific needs and circumstances.
This is often different from the more traditional "weekend dad" or "split time" custody arrangements. Families are acknowledging the importance of supporting quality time between children and both parents, and they are increasingly finding creative ways to enforce this.
When distance impacts parenting time, technology often plays a role. Skype, FaceTime and other virtual communication methods allow mom or dad to "see" and talk to their children even when they can't be there physically. At the other extreme, some divorced parents still share a home so that both parents are in their children's daily lives and can save on supporting two households.
Naturally, sharing a home doesn't work for everyone. Instead, each family must decide what arrangement does work for them. The point is that you can get creative.
An eye to the future
The end of a marriage can be extremely hard and emotionally devastating. Time helps heal the wounds and you can eventually move on with optimism. Unfortunately, when separating or divorcing where children are involved, you must make important decisions about parenting while the pain is still fresh.
An experienced and empathetic divorce attorney can help you step outside your emotions to design a plan that works for all involved. She can provide guidance and ensure that you look to the future when designing your plan, so that it will grow with your family and its needs. Most importantly, she can help you create a plan tailored specifically to your family - even if that is something that doesn't look like a traditional custody arrangement.