Divorcing parents must navigate numerous negotiations to reach compromises through the process. From determining the division of assets and debt to compromising about spousal maintenance and child support, the divorcing couple faces significant discussions from start to finish. The parenting plan represents one factor that the parents must carefully consider before moving on to other important items.
Here are five things to remember when drafting your parenting plan:
- Agree on a parenting schedule: The parenting time schedule generally takes the place of traditional notions of custody and visitation. While there might be different negotiations that seem to take center stage, determining the schedule’s division is the primary concern.
- Create a holiday plan with alternatives: After the parenting schedule is determined, parents should decide how to spend the holidays. Will holidays rotate through the year? Will the families split the holiday between the two homes? Will holidays rotate year over year? These can be complex negotiations.
- Include a list of acceptable exchange locations: While the preference might be to drive the child to and from each parent’s home for their parenting time, this might not always be possible. It is wise to include alternative locations such as a local park, a mall food court or a fast-food restaurant equidistant from both homes. Additionally, parents might choose to natural exchange such as one parent dropping off the child at school and the other parent picking him or her up.
- Determine the primary method of communication: To eliminate miscommunication or missed communications in the future, it is wise to discuss preferred styles right now. Some parents communicate better over text or email while some would rather have a short phone call. Settle this now to prevent future disputes.
- Set guidelines for vacations: While it might not come up often, but it might be beneficial to discuss the possibility of out of state or international vacations. Individuals do not need to agree on these matters at this early stage, but divorcing parents can at least lay the groundwork for how they will make these decisions in the future.
Even if a divorce is the best solution for your future, it still represents a stressful, emotionally turbulent time in your life. Significant decisions must be made that impact your financial future and your child’s ongoing stability. It is wise to take your time and remember certain tips when developing a parenting plan.