When going through a divorce or legal separation, couples with children have to have a parenting plan created and approved by the courts as part of the process. A parenting plan is a written document that is designed to make sure that the physical and emotional needs of the children are being met. These plans will cover things such as who will have time-sharing with the children, and when. While no parenting plan can cover every single situation, a good one will help to dramatically reduce conflict and confusion in the years to come. When creating a parenting plan, make sure to consider the following five tips to make it as effective as possible.
Put the Needs of Your Kids First
While this may seem obvious, it is quite difficult to do. When working out the details of a parenting plan, the emotions of the parents will almost always make things difficult. Parents need to try to set aside their own wants and needs and focus on what will help their children live happy and healthy lives as they grow up.
Cover Any Non-Standard Special Days
All parenting plans will state who will have the child on birthdays and major holidays. Most families, however, have a number of other special days per year, which can (and should) be included in the plan. If, for example, the father has a large family reunion on the first weekend in August each year, that can be written into the plan to help ensure the children can attend.
Start with Areas of Agreement
It can be tempting to start off any discussions with things you disagree on, it is usually better to discuss things where you are on the same page. This can eliminate them as areas of conflict, and get a lot done in the process. For example, if both parents agree on where the child will attend school, add that to the plan immediately. There is usually quite a lot that can be agreed upon immediately, and the rest can be dealt with next.
Start with Realistic Expectations
Don’t go into parenting plan negotiations expecting that you will have 100% time-sharing 100% of the time unless there is a very serious reason why this should be. Having reasonable expectations when entering this type of discussion can help to keep your emotions in check so you can talk clearly about the needs of the children.
Have a Reliable Family Law Attorney
A good family attorney will have had years of experience helping to write parenting plans, and this can be invaluable during this process. We can help to write the parenting plan and ensure everything that is needed is included in the final document that will be presented to the courts. Contact us to talk about your situation and get the help you need.