With everything you have to deal with during a divorce, your number one priority probably involves making sure your children move into their new lives with as little stress as possible. You and the other parent have the unique opportunity to create their future through your parenting plan.
When you sit down with the other parent to design this agreement, you want to make sure that you hit all of the important points. While you need to address their immediate needs for the next couple of years, you may also be able to include some flexibility to adjust the schedule as they grow and their needs change. The problem is knowing what issues to address.
Create an outline and fill in the gaps
While it’s impossible to address every conceivable situation you could find yourself in as a parent, you can hit the highlights and then fill in the gaps with terms that best suit your family and the best interests of your children. To start, you may want to look at the big picture, which includes addressing the following issues:
- Of course, you need to create a parenting time schedule that delineates what days each of you will have the children. You may want to consider where each of you lives, the proximity to friends and school, and the logistics of pick-ups and drop-offs when putting together this schedule.
- Consider how you and the other parent will handle school breaks, holidays and vacations.
- Will you both make decisions about the children’s lives? This is where you consider the religion they will practice, if any, where they will go to school, their health care and more.
- Will you both attend school and extracurricular functions of the children?
- Consider how you will handle the children’s contact with other family members, such as grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.
- What will the children’s daily routine look like? Even though the routine does not have to be the same at each home, daily activities such as bedtime, meals, homework and more should follow the same loose schedule so that the children know what comes next, regardless of whose home they are in at the time.
- Just like the daily routine, the children also need to know what to expect when it comes to discipline.
- You need to outline a method of communication between the two of you since the children should not take on the responsibility of relaying messages between parents.
- You will disagree when it comes to the children just like every other parent here in Connecticut and elsewhere. You need to include some form of dispute resolution in your parenting plan for these occasions so that you don’t damage the relationship you are building as co-parents or end up in court every time you argue.
- Each of you needs access to medical records, school records and any other documentation relating to the children, especially if you plan to share the decision-making process.
As you can see, you can include a wide variety of issues in your parenting plan. Even though most parents do not enter into a contract when it comes to parenting, you have the chance to do so. This may not seem like an advantage now, but as you move into the future, you will more than likely come to appreciate that everyone knows what will happen next, which helps your children feel safe, secure and loved.