If you are recently separated, or are even single, but you co-parent a child or children, you may need to create with a parenting plan. Not only does many states require this when you file various paperwork in family court, but it has been shown that parents who create a written plan they both agree to, are more likely to stick to it. Being able to work together is best for the children involved, and will help to keep you out of family court. While some states require the plans to be on specific forms, or in a specific format, most of the plans contain the same basic information.
What Is A Parenting Plan?
Simply put a parenting plan is a document that outlines the living arrangements, and visitation schedules that will take place between the two parents that are involved. It serves as a guideline for anything pertaining to the care and control of the children. Some of the other things that are addressed include:
- Schools to be attended
- Access to medical, dental, and other types of records
- Any expenses pertaining to the children to include medical insurance, and extra-curricular activities
- Contact with other relatives, future partners and more
Various financial issues such as child support may be included in your plan, but may be a separate document. Your plan should also address any restrictions, concerns, or safety issues that need to be in place to protect your children. This document can be designed to be very comprehensive, or can be a basic outline, as long as it meets the minimum qualifications for your state.
Who Creates The Parenting Plan?
Ideally, a parenting plan is created between the two parents who are involved. Depending on the age of the children, they should also be allowed to have some input into the plan. Remember, every child is unique and different, and a plan that may suit one child, will not suit another. If you and the other parent are able to come to an agreement, your plan will simply need to be submitted to the court for their stipulation, or consent.
If the parents are in agreement with the information that makes up the content of the plan, this can be a very easy document to create. If the parents are not in agreement, the plan may have to be worked out in other ways.
- You can enlist the assistance of the family law attorney involved.
- Mediation services which are often available through your local family court, can also be a great place to help to work out your differences.
- If no resolution can be decided, the details contained within your plan may have to be decided by the court.
Things You Need To Consider When Making Your Parenting Plan
You, and your child's safety should be the first and foremost consideration when creating your plan. This should not only be taken into consideration, but it should be an issue that is heard by the court if you cannot find a way to stay safe, and keep your child safe.
Set aside your conflicts. It is much easier on your children, and everyone else involved if you can simply agree to disagree. Always find ways to communicate that do not place your children in the middle. They are not pawns in your game of life.
Examine your current arrangement and figure out what is currently working. If it works, minimize any changes that you make to that arrangement. If it does not work, figure out why it is not working and fix it.
Remember, while parenting plans are legal documents, they are designed to be modified, and amended as your children grow and change. Plans that worked for them when they were younger, may no longer be appropriate as they become tweens, or teens.