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Co-parenting begins with negotiating your parenting plan

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have discussed sharing custody and co-parenting your children after the divorce. You could rely on the court to make the arrangements on your behalf, but that may defeat the purpose of continuing to share parental duties post-divorce.

A North Dakota court only has a limited number of options when it comes to entering child custody orders. Moreover, the court does not understand your family's dynamics and cannot possibly know what would work best for your family. In many cases, the court's only concern is the best interests of the children, which may not result in an order that works for all of you.

Negotiate your own agreement

You may negotiate your own parenting plan. You and the other parent would retain control over the plan's structure and would have the freedom to think of unique solutions that would best fit your family. You could still ensure that the best interests of your children are protected, but you can take your interests and the other parent's interests into account as well.

You could attempt to negotiate your agreement on your own, but it may not meet current North Dakota laws and public policies. In addition, you may run into obstacles that threaten to derail the process.

Alternative methods of dispute resolution

Instead of going to court or trying to create an agreement without help, you could use an alternative method of dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law. These methods allow you to remain in control of your agreement as well. The difference is that you and the other parent surround yourselves with people who provide you with advice and alternatives. They also keep you on track and help you resolve any disputes that arise.

You can bring in counselors who can interview your children and give you another perspective on what may work regarding custody and visitation. You can figure out how to handle holidays, school functions and other important events that will arise in your children's lives. You may also add provisions into your agreement regarding resolving any disputes that arise between you and the other parent after the divorce.

Committing to co-parenting requires the two of you to be able to work together. Creating your parenting plan outside of the courtroom could help you build the foundation of a new relationship that allows you to continue being loving and supportive parents well into the future.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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