Your parenting plan is the document that defines your rights and your obligations both to your children and to the other parent in your family.
Trying to create a comprehensive parenting plan can seem intimidating at first. You may worry about what you need to include and how you will convince your ex to follow those rules.
Although you have the flexibility to include whatever you deem most important in your parenting plan, there are certain considerations that every parenting plan should address.
The division of parenting time and scheduling details
One of the most important determinations in custody proceedings will be how much parenting time each adult has with the children. If the two of you negotiate your own parenting plants before you file for divorce, you may be able to make those crucial decisions yourselves.
Deciding on the approximate percentage of parenting time each adult receives is only the first step. You then have to take that decision and apply it to your household schedule. You need rules for when the children are in school and for summer vacation. Extracurricular activities, holidays and other special events that will matter to the children answer the parents.
Your parenting plan should take about timing, custody exchange locations and how to reschedule. You will also need to address financial contributions made by each parent, including unpredictable expenses like emergency medical care and other unexpected costs.
The rules that will apply to the children and either household
The divorce of parents often provokes inappropriate behavior in children. They lash out in part because divorce destabilizes their perception of their family and their daily schedule.
You can help protect the consistent sense of family and routine for your children by setting rules that both of you will uphold in your parenting plan. A consistent curfew, reliable rules about socialization and technology use and even the same expectations for behavior and grades at both houses can help reduce conflict between kids and parents after the divorce.
Structure to help the parents make this new situation work
The children aren’t the only ones who will need rules in this new situation. Both parents will likely benefit from having rules in place regarding everything from the steps to take when one parent must change the parenting schedule about something important. Communication and conflict resolution rules can help parents trying to adjust to their new co-parenting arrangements.
Being careful to include enough details in your parenting plan can help you avoid the biggest parenting pitfalls many newly divorced couples face.