Your marriage may be over, but your parental relationship will never end. You and your future former spouse know that you will need to work together in order to help your children through the impending transition, and to give them the love and support they need in order to thrive as they grow.
You decided that the best course of action is to create a parenting plan together outside of the courtroom, in order to tailor it to your family and give you more control over how your future as co-parents will look. The problem is that you aren't quite sure what you need to include, and you don't want to miss something important.
The basics of a parenting plan
You may find that the process of creating your parenting plan will go much smoother if you start with a general outline and then fill in the details. Below are the elements that often make up what will become a solid, satisfactory and workable plan:
- You will need a detailed schedule for physical custody of the children. It should include holidays, birthdays and other important events in your children's lives.
- Make sure to include provisions regarding school breaks and vacations.
- Will you make the major decisions regarding your children's upbringing together? You can share legal custody, but you need to make sure you have a way to break a stalemate if one occurs.
- Include details regarding how you will exchange custody. This helps avoid confusion in the future.
- Who will carry health insurance for the children, and how will you divide out-of-pocket expenses?
- Make sure to include information about your children's educational needs, including how you will share information, attend parent/teacher conferences and more.
- Will you attend school and extracurricular functions together?
- What will you do about visits with extended family?
- Addressing how you will communicate is essential to the success of your co-parenting. If you plan to make decisions together, you need to communicate effectively and without contention.
- Having a plan for resolving any conflicts that arise could save your co-parenting relationship.
Depending on your situation, you may need to include other categories in your outline. The good thing about creating your own parenting plan is that you can address issues specific to each of your children if you want to do so. Once you have the outline of your parenting plan complete, you can pay attention to the details that will govern your new relationship as parents. You can think outside the box and make decisions based on what will work best for your children and the two of you.