Parenting Plans

The Transition to an Unmarried Family
  • Lois Gold


The legal terms are custody and visitation. But the real issues are these: How will you continue to be effective parents in separate households? How will your family function after the divorce? If you are only asking the question, Who will have custody? you are solving a legal problem, not a family one. You and your ex-spouse brought your children into the world together, and divorce doesn’t alter that fact. But it does require you to rethink how you will see them through. The family doesn’t end at separation or divorce, it changes. In time, you will become two distinct families connected by common children. This transition from one household to two, from a nuclear family to what has been described by researcher Constance Ahrons2 as a “bi-nuclear” family, takes time. Figuring out the details of when the children will be with each of you, how child care will be shared, who will be responsible for doctor and dentist appointments, how decisions will be made, or even who stays home with a sick child all takes negotiation, planning, and experimentation. If you get hung up on who gets custody, you will get locked into competing positions in which there are only two choices. Someone will be hurt because each of you has to make the other wrong in order to be right.


Child Support Parenting Plan Residential Parent Primary Residence Custodial Parent 
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© Lois Gold 1992

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  • Lois Gold

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