Parenting can be a challenge, but even more so when you’re co-parenting with your ex after divorce. To make things easier, it’s a good idea to have a detailed parenting plan in place. Even if your relationship is amicable now, a good parenting plan can establish expectations and help you to avoid future disagreements and keep you out of court in the future.
With help from your attorneys, you establish and agree on a parenting plan as part of your divorce settlement. And a parenting plan filed with the court, and approved by the court, becomes enforceable by law.
Include the details
A parenting plan should be as detailed as possible. The more details you cover now, the less likely it is that you’ll have conflict later. Being specific will help you keep your focus on the good of your children and can help you to navigate potentially complicated issues down the road.
You’ll want to include:
- Details around parenting time schedules.
- Financial responsibilities and how they’ll be shared.
- Methods of communication between exes.
- How you’ll address important decisions regarding healthcare, education and religion.
- Decisions about extracurricular activities and who will pay for them.
- Details and expectations about holidays.
- Any future concerns or issues.
There is no “one” parenting plan as your family’s needs are specific and individual. As you create it, you’ll adjust your plan according to what works best for you and the needs of your kids. Additional information may need to be included based on your circumstances and preferences. It’s important to know that there can be give and take between spouses. If you get along and agree to be flexible, you can choose to trade or give up some of your parenting time if your spouse has a special occasion or vice versa.
Dangers of leaving out details
An unclear parenting plan can leave gaps and confusion as issues arise and the possibility for potential conflict. If you plan to figure things out as you go, you open doors for future conflict. If it’s not in writing or approved by the court, a violation of your plan may not be enforceable. Without details to address times for child exchanges or the dates and timelines expenses might be paid, you could set yourself up for trouble and disappointment.
Planning for a worst-case scenario, even though it may not ever happen, can give you peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered if you need it and gives you a solid plan you can both count on.