Parenting Plans 101
If you are the divorcing parents of a child under the age of 18, you should understand that a major and important part of your divorce process will be related to that child. You already know that you want to reduce the impact of your divorce on your child as much as possible, and it may help you to know that the family court system feels just as strongly about this issue as you do. Since issues relating to your child are often fraught with emotion and stress and hold the potential for disagreements, you should make plans to set aside some time to discuss how you want to deal with this matter with each other. Read on to learn more about what you should take into consideration when creating your parenting plan:
What is a parenting plan? This term is a fairly new one, taking the place of child custody plans and taking into account not only custody but visitation and child support in some cases. Another new term is co-parenting, which takes the place of shared custody or 50/50 parenting.
Dealing with the easy issues: It may be best to make a list of issues and work on the easiest ones first. This can help foster a positive atmosphere of cooperation and respect. For some parents, that might be school or educational choices and for some that might mean who gets the child during school vacations.
Don't bite off more than you can chew: It's far too easy to overcommit in the name of trying to do the right thing for your child. Take into consideration you and your spouse's work schedules and other time commitments before you make your plan for who will care for the child and when.
Keep it simple: Many parents create complicated plans that make them each feel like they are getting equal amounts of time with the child, but that place the child's life in utter chaos. Children are busy, even the young ones, so keep a calendar on hand when making plans that spell out school hours, social meetings, after-school classes, sports, volunteer activities (often a must for scholarship opportunities) and more. It may serve your child more to stay with one parent only during the busiest school weeks and allow the other parent time on the weekends.
Allow input, but take age into consideration: Tread carefully when consulting with your child about your parenting plan. Older children may provide welcome feedback and input, but never place what is really an adult burden on your child. Divorce is stressful enough already for children without making them feel that they need to make parenting decisions.
Use technology to your advantage: A shared online calendaring system is a must have for all busy families, and especially those divorcing. Additionally, there are many helpful apps for your smartphone to help keep you organized at all times.
Speak to your divorce lawyer for more information and assistance.