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Tips For Developing An Effective Parenting Plan

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Even though you may never want to see your ex-spouse again after you're divorced, you'll have to find a way to co-parent with him or her if the two of you have children together. Studies have shown children do better when both parents are involved in their lives. One way you can ensure your kids enjoy the benefits of having two active parents even though you and your spouse are divorced is to create a parenting plan. Here's information about parenting plans and a few ideas for developing one that works for your family.

The Lowdown on Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is a formal agreement between you and your ex-spouse about how you will parent your children. These agreements can be as detailed or sparse as you like and typically cover issues such as parenting duties, living arrangements, financial responsibility, medical decisions and visitation concerns.

There are many benefits to developing and sticking to a parenting plan including:

  • Minimizing arguments about parenting decisions
  • Providing children with a sense of stability and sameness no matter which parent they are with
  • Giving each parent a clear idea of his or her role and responsibilities
  • Allowing parents to make plans by deciding beforehand who will have the kids during the summer, weekends and holidays
  • Creating a formal platform for addressing complaints and disputes

Most states require parents to file parenting plans detailing how court-ordered issues such as parenting time will be handled. In some communities, parents can file their plans with relevant businesses and educational facilities to make implementation easier. For example, some day care centers will accept and follow parenting plans detailing which parent will pick up children at specified times.

These plans can be modified at any time to account for changes in circumstances such as parental relocation, abuse or financial difficulties. They can be legally enforceable, so it's a good idea to have a family law attorney, like one from Mills & Mills Law Group, look over your plan to ensure it does not infringe on your parental rights.

Creating a Workable Parenting Plan

Working with your ex-spouse to develop a parenting plan that benefits all parties involved requires the two of you to set aside your feelings about each other. This can be difficult to do if your divorce was acrimonious. However, approaching the task like a business deal and focusing on doing what's best for your children may make it easier to be civil to your ex-spouse and draw up a plan that is fair and practical.

  • The first thing you should tackle is decision making. Determine who will be responsible for making important decisions regarding the children, such as their medical care. If you prefer to make joint decisions about the kids, then put a process in place where you and your ex-spouse can come together to discuss the issues and make a final decision if there are differing opinions.
  • Develop a system of discipline that you both can adhere to. Having similar disciplinary methods will prevent children from trying to pit you and your ex-spouse against each other.
  • Children thrive on schedules, so create one that your kids will follow no matter who they are living with. Having a consistent schedule where kids eat, do homework and go to bed at similar times will help them adjust to the divorce a lot faster.
  • Outline your individual responsibilities. For example, detail who will chaperone the kids on field trips or pick sick kids up from school.
  • Communication is critical to the success of your parenting plan. Definitely incorporate a way for you and your ex-spouse to communicate with each other, share information and manage disputes.

As noted previously, it's a good idea to have an attorney look over your parenting plan to ensure it doesn't tread on your parental rights. For more information about or help with developing a parenting plan contact a family law attorney.