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2 tips for including your child in parenting plan decisions

Your child is young, and you're not sure he understands what it means that you're going to get a divorce from his father. You know that you have to make a parenting plan and work out custody-related issues, but you're still trying to understand how to explain it to your child.

When you're ready to create a parenting plan, it can be a good idea to include your child in the discussion. Depending on your child's age, that might be hard to do, but you can use age-appropriate discussions to help your child feel that he has a say in what happens.

1. Talking about divorce

The first thing you'll need to do is to talk to your child about the changes that may occur. If your child is five or six, you might want to say that mom and dad have decided to live in two houses.

Maybe you'll choose to explain that it means he'll have two homes and get more time with mom or dad alone when he sees them. If your child is older, for example, an 8- or 9-year-old, he might already have preconceptions about divorce. You should provide reassurance and be open to listening to what he has to say.

2. Talk about custody

Custody and visitation comes down to what you and your husband can work out for your own schedules. That doesn't mean you can't think about what works better for your child, though.

If you're working 40 hours a week during the morning and your husband works afternoons and evenings, then it might be beneficial for you to allow your son to stay the night at your husband's new home and for your husband to take your son to school in the morning. Then, you can pick your child up from school and potentially drop him back off at his father's home at night or have him picked up before you go to work in the morning.

That's just one possibility for one circumstance where people live close together. Your situation may require a different arrangement. You can ask your son what he'd prefer to do, too, and keep that in mind when you're designing your parenting plan.

Your attorney can help you work together to come up with a plan that is in your child's best interests. With the right help, you can come up with a plan that is best for everyone involved.

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