The divorce process is rarely easy. The stress of dividing up everything you both worked hard to gain can leave even the friendliest couple on edge.

When you have children, the anxiety of trying to split custody – both legal and physical – may leave you feeling numb. You and your spouse want the kids to feel all the love and none of the negativity and stress that may swirl. Creating a reasonable parenting plan is one way to help your kids feel comfortable with their new reality. Follow some of these tips to help pave the way for a successful post-divorce parenting plan.

Put the children first

If you and your spouse can agree on nothing else, at least agree that the children come first. Draft an agreement with their needs in mind. Make it fair to the children first, and then to each other. Children who report feeling safe and happy post-divorce generally have parents who put their differences aside and think of them before anything else.

Consider a realistic schedule

Do not create a plan based on anything but what you know at that moment. For instance, if you know you will have to start working more hours, do not commit to picking the children up early. The same goes for your spouse. Do not commit to more time now if your near future is changing. The last thing you want is to have to keep juggling the kids around and changing their routine to fit yours.

Maintain flexibility as time passes

Having a rigid schedule and insisting you both stick to it may wind up costing you in the long run. When couples hammer out their parenting plan, it is under the guise that they will modify it between them as needed. The court would prefer you to keep communication open and fluid rather than stick to the letter of the agreement if possible.

Through the divorce process, the best thing you can do is try to hold reason over emotion. Even though it is difficult, it is not impossible. Put your children first to help the process resolve on a positive note.