Your parenting plan should spell out your rights and responsibilities in detail. A clear and detailed plan reduces confusion. Reduced confusion leads to fewer arguments about what the plan says. Fewer arguments leads to less tension. Less tension between the parents is better for the children because:
Children hear and see more than you think they do. They hear arguments between Mom and Dad, and they see how angry you are. When you are angry, your focus changes from loving your children and meeting their needs to holding onto your anger at the other parent. This legal case is temporary.
The relationship you have with your children is permanent. When the case is over, you parents will still need to parent your children. Turn your arguments over to your lawyers. Let them fight about it. Do everything in your power to preserve your “business” relationship so that you can parent your children. And part of that is:
Do what you can to make the transition between households smooth for your children. Make sure they’re ready on time for the other parent to pick them up. Make sure you’re on time when you pick them up. Call the other parent if you’re going to be late. Do whatever you need to do to avoid fighting and sniping with the other parent in front of your children. If that means waiting in the car and letting the children come to you, do it. If that means staying in the house and sending the children to the car without you, do it.
If you are the parent who pays child support, remember that child support is your child’s right, not the other parents’ right. Some parents think they’re winning a fight if they don’t pay support. Children see it differently. They think it means that the nonpaying parent doesn’t love the children. Children hurt when they think the nonpaying parent would rather win a fight than take care of the children’s needs.
And finally, try to shift your focus from “the other parent” to the children. Your parenting plan is a way for both parents to take the focus off each other and shift focus to the children. Work as a team to meet the children’s needs.