Learning to co-parent successfully with your former spouse following divorce definitely takes work, but parents who are able to do so are often able to minimize the negative impact their divorces may have on their children. A common element many divorced parents use to set guidelines and expectations with regard to parenting is a parenting plan, which is a written document that stipulates who has what responsibilities when it comes to caring for your shared child.
While every family situation is different, and the things you must address in your parenting plan will likely differ broadly from those faced by other families, there are certain elements that most parenting plans include. When drafting yours, you may want to consider including information about the following:
1. How much time a child spends with each parent
Even if you and your former spouse share custody of your children, it may benefit your entire family to include specific information in your parenting plan about exactly when your child will live in each of your homes. For example, maybe your child will spend two weeks with you, and then two weeks with your former partner, or maybe your son or daughter will live with you Monday through Thursday, and your former spouse, Friday through Sunday. You can also include information about how you plan to handle holidays and special occasions and how you plan to handle pick-ups and drop-offs.
2. Each parent's responsibilities
An effective parenting plan will also likely address matters such as when each parent will have to communicate with the other about the child. For example, your parenting plan may stipulate that you must confer with one another when it comes to making decisions about health care, education, extracurriculars and so on. You may also want to clarify that the parent the child is living with at the time has decision-making authority when it comes to less-exigent matters.
While these are two important elements you may want to include in a parenting plan, this is only a small sample of the types of matters you can address when you create yours.