How To Create a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a document that two co-parents who do not live together use to help them work together to raise their child.The parenting plan may be mandated by the family court.Take time to think about how you want to approach child rearing when writing a parenting plan.As your child ages, you may have to amend it.

Step 1: Decide on the schedule.

How often the other parent will visit the child is the first thing you need to decide.If you have your own circumstances, you can decide on joint custody or if it’s best for the child to live with one parent.If you have a baby, try to arrange the schedule so that both parents can be involved in the day-to-day care of the baby as this is important for bonding.If your child is older, the school schedule may affect your schedule.If one parent decides to move, talk about what will happen.

Step 2: There is a plan for holidays.

You may want to make some changes to your schedule for holidays and vacations.If Father’s Day falls on a day when the child would normally be with the mother, you may want to make a special exception for that day.You can split holidays with your child’s other parent if you live close to each other.For example, you may have the child for Christmas morning and your co-parent has a child on Christmas evening.It is important to consider vacation plans as well.If you plan on taking a two-week vacation with your child over the summer, you need to decide if your co-parent will be allowed to do the same.To avoid scheduling conflicts, be sure to coordinate vacations with your co-parent.Birthday parties are something you may want to plan for.Decide if you will have a separate party or one where both sides of the family will be invited.

Step 3: Consider special circumstances.

In addition to holidays and vacations, there may be other things that necessitate an adjustment to the schedule.It’s impossible to plan for everything, but having a basic idea of how you will handle special circumstances will help you avoid conflicts with your co-parent.If the child is sick, you have to adjust the schedule.If there is a funeral or a last-minute invitation to a birthday party, decide how you will deal with it.If the child is not able to be with one parent during a normal visit day, you can either make this day up or just continue with the regular schedule.You can decide to have the child spend an extra day with that parent.

Step 4: The child is allowed to stay with someone.

It’s important to outline the restrictions in the parenting plan if you don’t trust certain family members to be around your child.If the person is not alone, it is okay for them to be around your child.Establishing general guidelines for the type of person who is allowed to babysit is something you may want to do.You and your co-parent can agree that all babysitters must be at least 16 years old.

Step 5: How will you swap your child?

If your child spends time with both you and your co-parent, you will need to establish a procedure for exchanging the child.The kind of relationship you have with your co-parent and how close you are to each other will determine the right arrangement for you.Dropping the child off at each other’s houses is possible if you and your co-parent have a good relationship.If you don’t want your co-parent coming to your house, you could meet somewhere else.You can arrange your schedule so that one parent drops the child off at school and the other picks him up from school.

Step 6: Decide how you want to spend your time.

It’s important to talk to your co-parent about what extracurricular activities your child will be involved in.If one parent will be allowed to sign the child up for an activity without the approval of the other, you need to figure out if you will discuss each activity before committing to it.In addition to time considerations, you should also consider that your co-parent may not agree with the activity or that it is too expensive.It will be much easier to make decisions when there is a plan in place.It’s important to think about transportation to and from activities if they are far away.It is important to agree on this before committing your child to any activities that may take place during your co-parent’s visit.

Step 7: Who will attend the event?

Whether your child plays soccer or performs in the school play, you will eventually be faced with an event that you may both want to attend.You should come up with an agreement about which events your child will attend.If they are frequent, you may decide to attend alternating events.You have to decide if there will be any rules.Will you interact with each other or not?

Step 8: How will you communicate with your co-parent?

A lot of things will come up when your child is with you, and your co-parent will want to know about it.Things like the schedule for soccer games, punishments, or issues that your child has been having at school are included.It’s important that you have a plan for how you will communicate this information.Discuss your preferred method of communication.You can communicate by email if you don’t like talking to your co-parent in person or on the phone.If you decide to use an intermediate to communicate, you should outline how and when it will happen.Decide what information needs to be shared.You co-parent may want to know about it every time your child has a cold, or the two of you may decide that this is not necessary.

Step 9: Coordinate routines.

If you want to agree on a schedule with the other parent, walk through your child’s routine with them.Having the same routine in both households will make it much easier for young children.Sleeping and feeding schedules are important for babies.It’s important that homework and playtime are consistent for older children.

Step 10: Rules for communication with a child.

Clear rules for how and when each parent will communicate with the child during the other parent’s visit time is important.If you can come to an agreement that allows the child to stay in contact with both parents, there will be no conflicts between the parents.The hours in which the other parent can call the child may be established.Both of you should agree to allow the child privacy when talking to the other parent.Depending on your schedule, your rules may change.If the child is staying with one parent for the entire summer, the other parent may want to phone frequently.Frequent phone calls may not be appropriate if the child is only with the other parent.The parenting plan you share with your child must be decided by you and your co-parent.Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you can choose the right choice.If you have a teenage son who you think would appreciate the chance to contribute to the plan, you may want to allow him to help you make some of your decisions.Some aspects of the parenting plan, like the financial clauses, are not appropriate to share.

Step 11: A child support agreement is needed.

Child support is one of the most controversial aspects of a parenting plan.A fixed amount of money is usually paid to the other parent by the non-custodial parent.Each parent’s income and custody arrangement will affect the amount.It is possible to agree on a child support arrangement that works for both you and your co-parent.You can go to family court if you can’t come to an agreement about child support.If other elements of the parenting plan change, child support may need to be changed.You might have to go to court to get the changes made.

Step 12: Financial support for adult children should be discussed.

Child support is only required for minor children.It may be appropriate for you and your co-parent to financially support your child for longer.You will need to include the details of your financial support in your parenting plan if this is the case.You can either establish an age at which you will no longer financially support your child, or you can use some other factor.When your child graduates from college, your financial support may end.

Step 13: Determine how expenses will be handled.

Discuss with your co-parent who will be responsible for everyday expenses if it is not already outlined in your child support agreement.If your child needs to buy a gift for a birthday party, who will pay for it?You might want to come up with guidelines for how much you should spend on certain items.

Step 14: How you handle large expenses will be decided.

You and your co-parent will need a plan for larger expenses associated with your child.Fees associated with a school trip abroad may be included.You might want to make a provision that requires that large expenses be agreed upon before they are incurred.This would prevent your co-parent from making a costly purchase for your child that you do not agree with and then expecting you to pay for half of it.

Step 15: Do you know if the belongings will be shared?

Should you keep individual items for your child at each of your homes or should you allow them to bring them back and forth?This can be applied to anything from a video game system to basic items.

Step 16: Discuss lifestyle decisions.

If there are certain lifestyle choices you have made for your child, it is important to discuss them with your co-parent and come to an agreement that you are both happy with.You may want to make sure that your child eats a healthy diet while staying with you.Provisions may be made regarding the co-parent’s lifestyle choices.You can ask your co-parent not to smoke around your child.

Step 17: Agree on the rules.

It’s important that you and your co-parent are consistent with your methods.If your child fails to meet your expectations, have a detailed conversation about how you will deal with it.It is a good idea to make sure that your child’s curfew is the same at both homes.Discuss with your child what circumstances they are allowed to go out without parental supervision.Discuss phone, internet, and television usage as well.If your child violates the rules of the household, make sure to implement them consistently.Discuss the same or similar chores with your co-parent if your child has chores.

Step 18: A plan for approaching religion and cultural heritage is needed.

Do you want to teach your child both religions or not?You can make a decision that you both agree on.You may want to educate the child about both religions if you have different religions.You may decide to only teach your child about one religion if one parent practices their religion more than the other.

Step 19: A plan for education is needed.

Do you want your child to attend public or private school?If you haven’t decided on a school yet, you may want to talk to your co-parent about how you will make your decision.You will have to deal with parent teacher conferences.Both parents can attend together if you take turns.The teacher could make arrangements to attend all the conferences separately.If you receive information from the school, make a note of it in your parenting strategy.You can either arrange for one person to receive everything and make copies for the other, or you can ask the school to send you both the same information.Decide who will be going to school.One person can attend all the events if you choose to take turns.It’s a good idea to make a decision that you’re both happy with.You should consider how you will pay for your child’s college education.Guidelines may be needed for how much each parent is willing to give.

Step 20: The child’s medical needs will be determined by who attends.

If you split the costs of medical and dental insurance, who will cover it?Discuss your child’s medical care with your co-parent, including how you will select doctors, who will attend appointments, and what the protocol should be in the case of emergencies.If both you and the other parent work, you can take turns taking your child to medical appointments.Depending on who has custody of the child at the time, the other option is to establish responsibility.If your child has special needs, these decisions are important.When it comes to care and treatment, it’s important that both parents are on the same page.How to choose braces and how to pay for them should be decided.

Step 21: A plan for handling future decisions is needed.

There will be other things that aren’t included in your parenting plan.A general understanding of how you and your co-parent will make future decisions is a good idea.You might agree that you will not make any major decisions without consulting the other parent.

Step 22: Decide if you have to go to court.

In some cases, co-parents can agree on a parenting plan on their own.This doesn’t work for everyone.If you can’t come to an agreement with your co-parent about one or more issues, you may need to go to family court.The judge will make a decision and issue an order to enforce the parenting plan.If you plan on sharing custody of a minor child, you may be required to file a parenting plan with the courts.Do you know if this applies to you?

Step 23: Everything should be written down.

It’s no small task to write a parenting plan.It will require a lot of time commitment from you and your partner.When the two of you can sit down and discuss all aspects of child rearing, try to coordinate a time.The smallest details should be written down.This will help keep confusion to a minimum.Each of you should have a copy of the parenting plan.

Step 24: You have to sign the plan.

Signing the parenting plan shows you are committed to following the agreement that you came up with.Even if you don’t file the document with the courts, it’s still a good idea to have both parties sign it.If you have to file a parenting plan with the courts, you will need to sign it in front of a public official.

Step 25: You should be willing to change your plan.

Plans will need to adapt to the needs of children as they age.It’s important to keep in mind that even if a certain arrangement works now, it doesn’t mean it will work forever.It is possible to change the plan whenever it is necessary.It’s a good idea to be open to discussing the plan whenever you need to, even if you want to create a schedule for reviewing and revising it.