Even if you and your spouse are going through an amicable divorce, you may have difficulty working out a parenting plan. Establishing a parenting time schedule may feel impossible if you both want to spend lots of time with your children. And agreeing on parenting matters can be challenging, especially if you both have strong opinions about them.
As you create your parenting plan, it is important for you and your spouse to set aside your differences and prioritize your children’s best interests. By doing so, you can put forth an agreement that gives their lives stability and continuity.
Understanding what your parenting plan needs to include
No two parenting plans are the same, yet at the center of each one is a parenting time schedule. For yours to be effective, it must reflect your and your spouse’s work schedules, as well as the distance you two will live apart from each other. You must also make sure it is based around your children’s schooling and activities. By building a parenting time schedule with these factors in mind, you can minimize your divorce’s impact on your children’s routines.
Your parenting plan must also outline you and your spouse’s decision-making responsibilities. If you two are sharing these, you must detail how you will work together to make choices about your children’s education and medical care. You will also want to reach consensus about other important matters, like your children’s religious upbringing, diet and discipline. These areas can be points of contention, and you will want to ensure that there is as much consistency as possible in them between your households.
Besides these matters, you will want to make sure your parenting plan addresses:
- How you and your spouse will communicate with each other
- How you and your spouse will exchange your children
- How you and your spouse will resolve any disagreements that arise
- How you and your spouse will share your children’s expenses
- Where your children will spend holidays, birthdays, vacations and other special occasions
- Whether you or your spouse can bring new partners around your children
- A set time to review the parenting plan to make the best use of it as the children’s lives – and yours – change.
- Transportation on parenting time exchanges
- The right of first refusal when parenting time needs to be changed
- Communication with the children when with the other parent
- The children being able to communicate with you when with the other parent
A thorough parenting plan can make it easier to co-parent with your spouse after you two divorce. With the help of a family law attorney, you can set forth an agreement that puts your children’s best interests first.