If you’ve decided to end your marriage and you share a minor child with your spouse, you will need to clarify the child’s post-divorce living arrangements. Commonly known as a parenting plan, you’ll need to craft an arrangement that outlines how you will co-parent your child.
Ideally, the court prefers that divorcing parents work out a parenting plan on their own. If you and your spouse can resolve your differences amicably in this way, the court will eventually review and (very likely) approve whatever plan you come up with. To ensure that your parenting plan is approved, however, it must reflect your child’s best interests.
Here are three things you need to take into account when creating a parenting plan:
1. Each party’s responsibilities
It is important that you clearly outline how you and your co-parent will share parental rights, responsibilities and childcare duties. For instance, if one parent works night shifts, it might make sense for the child to live primarily with the parent who is either working from home or day shifts.
Also, be sure to specify exactly how parenting time will be shared. Setting realistic expectations is important so that everyone involved can plan and can be held accountable for not honoring their responsibilities.
2. Decision-making process
You will still need to make some decisions together on your child’s behalf after the divorce, just as you did while you were living together. Decisions regarding their healthcare, education and co-curricular activities may best be made together. It is important that you specify how these decisions will be made and what issues will require the input of both parents.
3. Conflict resolution
Conflicts are part and parcel of life. Even if your divorce has been amicable, there is always a possibility that differences with your ex will develop over time. It is important that you include in your parenting plan how you will handle conflicts when they arise. You may want to specify a conflict resolution mechanism, like mediation.
Let’s face it – parenting after divorce can be difficult, especially if you do not have a plan. Find out how you can create a post-divorce parenting plan that will work for you, your child and your future co-parenting relationship.