coParents work well together when they have protocols for both routine and non-routine communication and a way to document agreements about joint custody plans.

Here is some guidance on these necessary communication components to make coParenting smoother and easier as you care for your children.

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Joint Custody Business Meetings 

The “Tri-Annual coParenting Joint Custody Business Meeting” serves many needs for planning, decision-making and designating tasks. Effective coParenting requires coordination and planning. Attempting to manage the myriad details, decisions, and schedule exceptions through daily (even weekly) contact often results in many more communications than feels comfortable along with difficulty keeping all the messages straight! The Tri-Annual Business Meeting was designed to increase effective planning and decrease the back-and-forth through email/text that often results in miscommunication and conflict.

We recommend that coParents develop a rhythm of joint custody meetings predictability in August, January and March (adjustable). The meetings have specific agendas.

  • August: Plan the school year from September through early January. This includes discussion regarding holidays, days off from school, academic requirements, fall and early winter extracurricular activities, health care appointments, and any other specific residential, kid, or parent considerations occurring in the fourth-month arc.
  • January: Similarly, sit down together to plan the second semester of school. This agenda includes mid-winter and spring break plans, holidays, days off from school, school events, health care appointments, kid, or parent considerations occurring in the second semester through end of school.
  • March: This is your summer planning meeting. coParents can determine the best time for this meeting according to scheduling needs; some coParents may prefer earlier, others later. You’ll plan vacations, summer events, camps and day-care considerations to the extent that you can. This also gives coParents a chance to check in on academic performance and the spring activity/sport/extracurricular planning.

About Karen Bonnell

Karen has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: