Splitting from your child’s other parent is rarely easy or seamless, but the process does not necessarily have to be tremendously painful or contentious, either. Increasingly, parents who are no longer together create documents called parenting plans that set guidelines both parents agree to follow when it comes to the co-parenting relationship.
While parenting plans vary broadly based on each family’s unique needs and the age of the child or children to which the plans pertain, certain similar elements exist that the most effective parenting plans typically share in common. So, if you and your ex work to establish one that works for you, consider making the following inclusions.
A general introductory section
You may find it serves you well to begin your parenting plan with a section that sets some general guidelines about how you plan to manage your co-parenting relationship. For example, you may include language in this section that dictates that both parents will avoid speaking ill of the other throughout the duration of the co-parenting relationship. Or, you may decide to include language concerning how you two will handle making important decisions related to your shared child.
A breakdown of responsibilities and expectations
A solid parenting plan should also cover exactly who is to care for the child, and when. While this section can include information about whatever custody arrangement you have, you can also use this section of the parenting plan to set expectations as to how you plan to handle holidays, school vacations, your child’s birthday and so on.
Information about how or when to modify the plan
You may, too, wish to include language that pertains to how you may go about modifying the parenting plan, should the need arise down the line. Often, such plans require modification as children age, so it may benefit you to say you will revisit the plan and potentially modify it every six months, two years or what have you.
Co-parenting can, at times, prove difficult. A parenting plan can help prevent many potential disagreements between you and your former partner.