Divorce is never easy, especially when you have children. It’s important to create a system that works for everyone involved, especially your children. By working together to build a parenting plan that works, you’ll ensure your children will have an easier time adjusting.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a formal, written agreement which outlines each parent’s responsibilities and role in their children’s lives moving forward. This agreement helps define how children will be co-parented once separated or upon the finalization of divorce. A parenting plan is usually drawn up with the help of a neutral third-party. Depending on the age of the children, the amount of input they have regarding the plan will vary, but the parenting plan should be reviewed as the children grow older to accommodate any needs they may have.
What should be considered when writing a parenting plan?
Parenting plans should be detailed and useful but also be flexible and realistic. Consider your relationship with the other parent as well as the age of your children to help decide how specific your parenting plan should be. Parenting plans are useful for minimizing conflict while setting out clear expectations and guidelines for everyone involved.
- Living arrangements
You should decide where your children are going to be living once you and your partner are separated. Some parenting plans state the children will primarily live with one parent, while the other is able to spend holidays and weekends with them. Other parents split the living arrangements, so the children live with one parent for a week and then travel to their other parent’s house. These arrangements will all depend on what works best for your family dynamic.
- Healthcare and education
You will need to decide what kind of insurance your children will receive, who will be responsible for non-emergency treatments or how non-emergency treatments will be handled, and how emergencies will be handled. Knowing how to handle medical situations is important to your children’s well-being and by having a plan in place will eliminate any confusion if the time comes. Regarding your children’s education, a similar structure can be used. Work out where your children will attend school, who will be responsible for any school fees and activities, and who has access to your children’s records.
- Holidays and vacations
Figuring out a schedule which works for both parents around the holidays can be difficult, as many holidays are considered to be family-focussed events. Discuss whether you want your parenting plan to have split or shared holidays, or alternating holidays. You must take into consideration how the summer holidays will be handled, as the children will no longer be in school, and other arrangements may have to be made to accommodate everyone. In addition to considering national holidays, you must also decide how vacations will be handled by each parent. Should permission be required to travel with your children? Or do you only want to be informed that your ex has decided to go on a vacation with your children? These are important questions to consider to ensure a clear plan is in place.
Communication is important. It’s not unreasonable to want to talk to your children when they are with the other parent, but this requires a discussion about the best hours and methods of contacting them. Proper communication will eliminate any misunderstandings you may have.
While several considerations when writing a parenting plan have been addressed, there are many other aspects of your children’s life that should be considered prior to finalizing the parenting plan.
Consulting with a licensed professional, such as a lawyer, psychologist, or social worker will help you draw up a parenting plan that is best for the well-being of you and your children. If you have questions or require assistance, contact the Lift Legal team for a consultation.