What to Include in Your Parenting Plan

Parenting PlanAn agreed parenting plan can be one of the most helpful tools to successful co-parenting. The following article, by Certified Parent Coach Jennifer Wolf, highlights 30 points to consider when developing a parenting plan.

What to Include in Your Parenting Plan

By  via thespruce.com | Oct 23 2017

Planning to raise your child with your ex? Developing a written parenting plan will help to clarify your roles and expectations so you can avoid petty arguments and focus on what’s best for your children. The following tips will help you plan ahead so that nothing essential gets left out of your family’s written parenting plan.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a formal, written document that outlines the commitments and agreements you’ve made with your ex regarding how you intend to raise your children.

While a parenting plan is not necessarily considered a legal document, some states require parents to file a parenting plan with the court as part of the child custody agreement. However, even if your state does not require divorcing parents to create a formal parenting plan, it is strongly recommended that you work with your ex to reach your own informal agreement regarding your roles and responsibilities. The benefit is that it forces you to consider many different scenarios and decide up front how you’re going to handle them. In general, if there’s anything you feel strongly about, put it in your parenting plan and ask your ex to agree to it.

Related Article: 12 Books to help your children cope with separation and divorce

Must-Haves for Any Parenting Plan

It is essential that you outline your agreed-upon living arrangements, as well as your commitments regarding visitations, holidays, and vacations. Here’s a list of the must-haves you’ll want to include:

  1. A basic residential schedule
  2. A regular visitation schedule
  3. A projected schedule for parenting time over the holidays
  4. A projected schedule for parenting time on birthdays
  5. Visitation transportation arrangements, including backup plans
  6. Car seat requirements, especially if your reside in different states with varying child seat laws
  7. Neutral drop-off or custody exchange arrangements (if necessary)
  8. Anticipated changes to your family’s residential custody and visitation schedule (as your children age)
  9. Alternatives schedules for school vacations
  10. How changes to the schedule should be proposed and negotiated in an effort to minimize last-minute schedule changes
  11. Regular and backup child care arrangements
  12. Whether the other parent must be considered first when a babysitter is needed (also known as the ‘right to first refusal’)
  13. How relocation requests will be handled, including how much notice must be given and how relocation disputes will be addressed
  14. Plans and/or schedules for maintaining ongoing relationships with extended family members
  15. Rules or agreed-up guidelines for introducing the children to either parent’s ‘friends’ or dating partners

Related Article: Age-by-Age Guide to What Children Understand About Divorce

Recommended Parenting Plan Add-Ons

It’s impossible to plan for every possible contingency in your parenting plan. However, you should carefully consider whether any of the following items need to be included. Again, anything that you feel strongly about should be discussed:

  1. Guidelines and/or rules pertaining to third-party visitation
  2. Sleeping arrangements for the children, including whether they must have their own bedrooms in each parent’s residence
  3. Instructions  and/or guidelines for administering medication
  4. Dietary requirements, including allergies
  5. Preferred discipline methods
  6. Guidelines for parent-child communication between visits/parenting time
  7. Parent-to-parent communication guidelines
  8. Decisions about piercings and body art
  9. Vaccinations
  10. Internet use (including social media sites)
  11. Cell phone access
  12. Curfews
  13. Guidelines regarding movies and entertainment (for example, R-rated movies)
  14. Expectations regarding participation in school/sporting events
  15. Expectations regarding participation in church/synagogue/mosque and/or civic activities.

For more articles please visit the Resolve Conflict Blog here. If you have any queries on Family Law or Mediation please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email info@resolveconflict.com.au

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