How to Create a Parenting Plan

Separation amongst co-parents is never easy. The process of divorce alone is already grueling for the parents, and it also negatively affects the children involved. If you’re going through a separation, you’ll have to consider many factors and make important decisions. To make sure that both parents agree on the terms, you’ll have to prepare a parenting plan.

family that needs a parenting plan

What is a Parenting Plan and Why Is It Important?

Parenting plans contain the salient details of raising a child after a divorce. It is a written or oral agreement between both parents about the rules of their children’s custody.

Preparing a parenting plan will help you and the other parent avoid conflict in the future, as you navigate raising your children in separate households.

Are Parenting Plans Required?

In the US, a number of state courts require co-parents undergoing divorce to write up a parenting plan. You can have a lawyer review your plan and they can also help you file it.

You can create a parenting plan without submitting it to a judge, but then it won’t be considered a legal document. Thus, a judge can’t enforce it in court. Make sure to check with your lawyer or mediator about the laws in your state regarding this matter.

What Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan?

There are various things you and the other parent need to decide on before coming to an agreement. Here are some topics your parenting plan may include:

Child Custody

One of the most important decisions you need to make is who will get custody of the children. There are two types of child custody that you need to consider: physical and legal.

Physical Custody

You’ll have to work out which household your kids will stay in most of the time, and how much parenting time each partner gets. Make sure that you come up with a fair schedule; one that considers the work situation of each parent and the child’s school time.

In some cases, one parent may choose to pack up and start moving to another place in order to start anew. However, the child may not want to change their school. Thus, you’ll also have to take your child’s interests at heart while you are crafting this document.

In the parenting plan, you’ll also have to specify how your children are going to spend their vacations and holidays. Again, consider your child’s opinions before you put this down in writing.

Legal Custody

This type of custody deals with who gets the authority to decide for their children’s life. Here are some decisions you’ll need to work out with your partner:

  • Access to health records and decision-making powers regarding health care matters
  • Authority over the child’s education and access to their school records
  • Authority to claim the child as a dependent
  • Ability to travel with the child, especially when going outside the geographic jurisdiction of the court that handled their divorce

Make sure to settle on these matters, as disputes over these things may hamper the care of your sick child in an emergency. You’ll find a parenting plan helpful in avoiding contempt between co-parents.

Child Support

There’s also the matter of financial support for your child. Raising a kid is not inexpensive by any means, and you’ll have to come up with a fair agreement with your co-parent on how much money you are each obligated to provide for your child on a regular basis. Here are just some expenses that need to be paid when raising a child:

  • Basic needs, such as shelter, food, and clothing
  • School fees and allowance
  • Health insurance premiums and other medical expenses

Communication with Your Co-Parent

In most circumstances, unfortunately, parents don’t separate amicably. These situations make parenting plans all the more important. Without a written document to state how parents must go about things, the well-being of the child may be compromised.

One of the most essential components of your parenting plan, then, must detail how you should communicate with your co-parent. Unlike when you were still married, you no longer have unrestricted access with the other parent.

Thus, you need to specify your contact information, as well as your child’s. You’ll also have to note when and how often they can talk with you and your child under normal circumstances. If an emergency happens, you also have to stipulate in the plan when and how to contact the other parent.

Means of Settling Disputes

Even under normal parenting settings, disputes on how children should be raised arise. For example, one parent may have a different idea on how to discipline their kids. They may also have heated arguments about the activities that a child can participate in, like a school trip.

When these conflicts emerge, parents must have a solid, well-thought-out plan for what to do. Parents may agree to undergo mediation to settle these disputes in a more civil and friendly manner.

Final Thoughts

It’s never easy for families to go through a separation. However, in some cases, it’s the best choice for both parents and children. To ensure your child’s well-being even after a divorce, having a parenting plan in place is crucial. In this document, you can detail key points on how to go about raising your child separately. With this plan in place, you can make sure that you are consistent and your child can lead the best life they can.

For more parenting tips, make sure to stay tuned for our next articles here at Preggy To Mommy!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Kathy Urbanski

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