If you are recently separated or going through a divorce and have children in the mix, you may be beginning to think about putting together a parenting plan. A legally binding document that makes stipulations intended to benefit the children of separated or divorced parents, a parenting plan can help minimize conflict between parents by setting guidelines to which both parties must firmly adhere. While the tenets of a parenting plan are going to vary based on each unique situation, they frequently include the following:
Parenting time schedules
Parenting plans may dictate specific shared-parenting arrangements, such as swapping physical guardianship every other week, every two weeks or the like. It may also make determinations about specific dates and events. For example, for the first year one parent may have the kids over Thanksgiving while the other has them on Christmas, and then the next year, the order may switch.
Drop-off and pick-up stipulations
Parenting plans also often contain information about which parent is responsible for certain tasks at certain times, such as dropping the children off at school each day or picking them up and taking them to soccer practice or music lessons.
Determinations about expense responsibilities
Parenting plans can also help reduce conflict between parents by setting clear guidelines as to who is responsible for certain expenses. Maybe your child has private school tuition that is primarily paid by one parent, while the other typically finances after-school activities, such as football or dance lessons.
Guidelines about parental contact
In some cases, such as those where there is little hope of you and your ex-partner being able to communicate effectively with one another, the parenting plan may also dictate how you two are to get in contact with one another. This may be by phone, by email or through another, mutually agreed-upon method of communication.
Guidelines for revisiting the parenting plan
Many modern parenting plans also contain clauses or information that dictates when the parenting plan itself might be revised. You may decide to revisit it at regular intervals, such as every three years or so, or you may plan to do so at a specific time, such as when an older child leaves the home for college.
Ultimately, the purpose of the parenting plan is to outline certain conditions to minimize the impact the separation or divorce is going to have on your children. If you believe establishing a parenting plan may benefit your family, you may want to contact an attorney.