When getting a divorce, or any time a child is born to an unwed couple, creating a parenting plan is a very important process. The parenting plan will be approved by the courts, and legally enforceable until it is modified (if necessary). When done properly, a parenting plan can help provide stability and routine for the child, and help minimize any fighting between the parents. One of the most important aspects of creating a good parenting plan is making sure that it covers as much as possible, including the following six key considerations.
The physical and legal custody agreements will determine where the child will spend the majority of their time and how decisions such as medical treatment are made. Determining how these arrangements are made is an important first step in any parenting plan.
Parenting plans should also list all the important holidays and who will have the child on each one. In most cases, the parents will alternate who gets the child on select holidays each year. In some cases, one specific holiday may be more important to one parent, in which case it can be specified that they get the child each year on that day.
If a parent is scheduling a vacation for the family, it will often require a break in the routine. The parenting plan can identify things like how much advance notice must be given and what other requirements the parents must meet in order to ensure the child is able to go on the vacation without depriving the other parent of their rights.
Many parenting plans will have one parenting time schedule during the school year, and another during the summer. This can help to ensure the child is able to spend meaningful amounts of time with each parent while also having the needed stability to excel in school.
Parents often stipulate that if childcare is needed, the other parent will have the option to come and get the child. For example, if the mother has to work and the father doesn’t, the father can have the time with the child rather than having them attend daycare.
Determining what, if any, cultural and religious upbringing the child should have can also be included in a parenting plan. If each parent attempts to handle these important areas of life differently, it can cause a lot of confusion and even conflict for the child. To the greatest extent possible, parents should try to get on the same page in these areas.
Creating a parenting plan can take a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort.