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Who sets the rules when co-parenting?

Iowa judges would prefer that you as parents agree on how you share custody. They’ve probably never met you or your kids until now, so they understand that you are better informed of your situation than them.

If you can decide, they will sign it off, provided it is not harmful to the child. If you cannot, they will do their best to make a decision in the child’s best interests.

Yet the parenting plan has limits. No judge will tell you what time your kids should go to bed or what they should eat for breakfast. Those sorts of decisions are down to you as parents. Yet what if you cannot agree?

Disagreements over how you raise the kids may be part of the reason you are divorcing

Everyone has their own ideals. For instance, you just want your kids to be happy, and your spouse wants them to be champion ballplayers. Disputes could arise when the kids no longer want to go to training five days a week. You think it’s their choice, but your co-parent thinks they need pushing.

You need to discuss those sorts of things and make a joint decision. Yet some things can change between households without much problem. For example, your child does not need to be home or go to bed at the same time in each house. Provided you do not let them play you off against each other as parents. There may be valid reasons for different hours in each household.

Food is another area where exact agreement is not needed. Sure, you do not want your child eating junk food 24/7 in the other house, but it’s not fair to expect your co-parent to cook a pro-macrobiotic diet for them if no one else in the house eats that.

Raising children is a lifelong commitment to co-operation in the best interests of your child. Choose your battles wisely. If you use an alternative form of divorce resolution such as mediation to settle your divorce and custody, it gets you off to a good start on negotiating and compromising on future matters.