The beginning of a divorce can feel like the end of the world – particularly for couples who have children. Provided that abuse and neglect are not a factor, it is in the best interests of the children that divorced couples continue to co-parent – but for this, they will need a plan.
A parenting plan is a written agreement as to how parents will care for and share time with their children after a divorce or separation. And having such a plan in place will go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings and conflict in the future as you and your ex navigate your new circumstances.
So how can you create a parenting plan that works for everyone? Here are a few tips.
Taking the time to understand the best interests of your child should be at the top of your priority list. This includes considering their physical needs such as shelter and clothing, but also their emotional needs such as having access to both parents.
You may also want to consider your child’s wishes for which you may need to take the following into account:
Dividing up time with children between parents can feel difficult at first, so one of the keys to creating a parenting plan is to find a schedule that works. Younger children often do best when they have frequent access to both parents whereas older children and teens might prefer less frequent changes. Typically, courts will recommend a 50/50 arrangement if possible, which can take a number of different formats including:
Don’t assume that you will just figure out how to stay in touch with your co-parent after the divorce. Once the child starts moving back and forth between homes, things can get hectic and good communication can fall through the cracks if there is not a plan.
Include in your parenting plan how you and your co-parent will keep each other up to date on important details about your children.
Your plan should also include the details about how you and your co-parent will make big and important decisions concerning things like your child’s education, medical care, and cultural and religious practices.
You will also want to have a plan for how decisions will be made in the event of an emergency when a quick decision must be made, and one parent cannot be reached.
Although your separation agreement will typically include some form of child support, it is useful to include details about how financial obligations will be handled within your parenting agreement.
Keeping track of expenses related to raising your children can help you come up with a family budget. Furthermore, you may also want to consider how you will handle expenses that are not covered by child support.
Creating a parenting plan can seem like a daunting task, but keeping these tips in mind can help you create a plan that works for you and your family. If you are going through a divorce and would like legal advice about co-parenting and other related issues, give me a call today to schedule a consultation.