Going through a divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotional process, especially when children are involved. One of the most challenging tasks for parents during this time is to create a child custody agreement and parenting plan that works for everyone involved. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the decisions you need to make about how you will co-parent your children with your ex going forward. You may even feel anxious about whether you will be able to come up with an effective resolution that meets everyone’s needs.
In this blog, we will discuss how to create an effective parenting plan that works for both parents and their children.
Understanding Each Parent's Needs and Preferences
As a first step, both parents should be encouraged to understand and articulate their individual needs and preferences in an honest and respectful manner. This helps ensure that each parent’s perspective is taken into consideration when developing a plan. It also allows for open discussions about any potential areas of disagreement or conflict so that these can be addressed before making any final decisions.
To create an effective parenting plan that meets everyone’s needs and preferences, it is important to understand what matters most to each person involved. You should take time on your own or with your attorney to figure out what aspects of your parenting plan are most important to you and which aspects you are willing to give way on.
When you and your ex begin to negotiate a plan, don’t hesitate to communicate what you want and need, but also be sure to make the effort to listen carefully and ask questions about anything your ex may feel strongly about or have concerns about.
Guidelines for Communication between Parents
It is essential to establish clear guidelines for communication so that any future issues or disagreements can be discussed in a productive manner. These guidelines should include rules about how often the two parents will communicate, what topics will be discussed, and possible solutions to any conflicts that may arise.
Generally speaking, the more conflict and tension that exists between you and your ex, the more rules may help provide productive boundaries for healthy communication between you. If your relationship with your ex remains respectful and amicable throughout the divorce, you may need to establish only minimum guidelines. Using co-parenting apps might help facilitate logistical ease between your households.
However, if your relationship with your ex is tense or fraught, it may be helpful to establish firm guidelines. You may want to stipulate that communicate takes place only through e-mail or through an agreed upon co-parenting app. Or you may want to set up specific guidelines to help resolve any conflicts that may emerge in the future.
Establishing Rules for Holidays and Special Occasions
When creating a parenting plan, it is important to establish clear rules for holidays and special occasions. Parents should discuss how holidays and other special occasions will be shared between them, such as alternating which parent the child will spend certain holidays with or splitting time on longer holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. Parents may also want to consider whether they will include occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and family birthdays.
Financial Arrangements Regarding Child Support and Medical Bills
When creating a parenting plan, it is important to discuss financial arrangements regarding child support and medical bills.
Here are some factors to consider when making these arrangements:
- The amount of child support each parent will pay should be based on their respective incomes as well as the number of children being supported.
- Both parents should agree on whether medical bills for the children will be split between them or if one parent will be responsible for all costs.
- It is important to determine who will be responsible for payment of any non-covered medical expenses or out-of-pocket costs.
- Parents should decide how these payments will be handled.
- Consideration should also be given to who will cover additional expenses related to raising the children, such as extracurricular activities or school supplies.
Financial arrangements regarding child support and medical bills can be a source of tension between parents, so it is essential that both parties communicate openly and honestly to come up with a mutually beneficial agreement. Co-parenting apps and/or shared spreadsheets can help parents accurately keep track of expenses.
Setting Up a Process for Amending the Plan
When creating a parenting plan, it is important to establish a process for amending the plan so that any changes or adjustments can be made in an efficient and effective manner.
Here are some tips for setting up an amendment procedure:
- Identify areas of potential change such as remarriage, relocation, or major lifestyle changes.
- Establish how often the two parties will communicate regarding any amendments that need to be made.
- Discuss who will initiate conversations about changes or alterations to the parenting plan – this can either be one parent who notifies the other when something needs adjusting or both parents who communicate regularly to ensure the plan is still working for everyone.
- Agree on a timeline for amending the plan – this should be flexible enough to accommodate any changes that may arise but also not too lax so that important decisions are not unnecessarily postponed.
- Set up clear guidelines for communication between both parents regarding amendments so that discussions can remain respectful and productive.
- Establish a process for informing one another of any changes in family circumstances or dynamics that could affect the arrangement going forward.
Our experienced family law attorneys at Burch Shepard Family Law Group are committed to helping individuals create effective parenting plans that allows families to move forward with their lives in a positive way. We understand the complexities of these arrangements and are here to provide support every step of the way.
If you are going through a divorce and need guidance as your develop a parenting plan for your family, contact us online or call us at (949) 565-4158 to schedule a consultation.