The breakup of a family unit is a difficult, emotional experience. As parents, you and your soon-to-be-ex must make important decisions as you continue to raise your children.
The court will want to know how you intend to do this, so you must create a parenting plan. Here are five major points to include:
1. Preparing the parenting schedule
The first order of business is to establish a schedule that works for you and the other parent in caring for your children and that also accommodates the children’s schedules pertaining to school, extracurricular activities and more.
2. Maintaining the schedule
Your parenting plan must also show how you intend to maintain the schedule. Make sure that the plan you create is realistic given individual agendas and outside responsibilities.
3. Making major decisions
It will also be important for you to show who will bear responsibility for making major decisions on behalf of the children. Disciplinary action, healthcare, education and religious upbringing are all areas that you should address in establishing which parent will take charge.
4. Deciding on expenses
The court will want your parenting plan to include a system for sharing expenses, for assuming responsibility for certain types of expenses, and for sending and receiving payments for child-related costs.
5. Planning for events
No matter how detailed your parenting plan becomes, you must allow for interruptions to the schedule. Build in the ability to make changes for events that come up and for special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays.
If you and your spouse have decided on mediation or collaborative divorce, the preparation of your parenting plan will become part of the process. If you and your spouse develop the plan on your own, it would be wise to seek a professional review before you present the plan to the court. Remember that the top priority for a judge will be the assurance that your parenting plan serves your children’s highest interests.