Developing a parenting plan is one of the most important aspects of the divorce process for parents. It will provide a blueprint for how the two of you will care for your children moving forward.
It's best when parents can work out the details of the plan on their own, keeping their children's best interests at the forefront. Of course, their attorneys should at least review the plan to help ensure that you've covered everything and that it will hold up in court, should the need arise.
No two parenting plans are alike, of course. However, nearly all include several basic items.
This covers when each parent will have custody and visitation rights to the children. The schedule can include not just whose house they'll be in and when, but who is responsible for pick-ups and drop-offs from school and other activities. Generally, more detail is better than less to help avoid conflicts and confusion.
The schedule should also cover where children will be on holidays, summer vacation and special occasions like birthdays. There are numerous options, such as alternating who has the kids on various holidays or letting the kids spend time with both parents if they live close enough.
It's best to agree on how you'll manage this schedule. There are a number of apps designed to help co-parents do this, as well as help them communicate about their kids with a minimum of personal interaction.
Your plan should lay out who will be responsible for important decisions regarding your kids, including their medical care, religious practices and education. It's often best if parents can jointly participate in these decisions. If you and your co-parent have differing views on these things, you may opt to let one parent have the final say in one area, while the other gets the last word in another.
You may also want to address decision-making when it comes to everyday issues. These can include the amount of screen time kids get, bedtimes, curfews and disciplinary matters.
Even with a child support agreement in place, you'll need to determine how various child-related expenses will be covered. You'll want to detail how and when the parent who actually pays for something is reimbursed by the other. This is another area where a shared parenting app comes in handy, because you can easily track your expenses and upload receipts and bills.
Family law attorneys can help to ensure that all of your children's needs have been addressed in your plan. They can also assist going forward as you adapt your original parenting plan to meet your growing kids' needs.
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