Divorcing your spouse is inevitably complicated, and so, too, is learning to adjust to a joint-custody or similar arrangement that means you will only have your children in your home part of the time. Chances are, you are divorcing your one-time partner because you no longer agree on certain areas or aspects of life, and this can lead to complications when the two of you continue to share parenting time after you split up.
Increasingly, parents who split up but plan to continue to share custody are creating parenting plans to help prevent unnecessary discord and hardship down the line. Essentially, a parenting plan is a written document that sets guidelines you and your former partner agree to follow when it comes to co-parenting after divorce. While you can address an exceedingly broad range of areas in your parenting plan, many divorced couples use them to set guidelines with regard to the following.
While you can use a parenting plan to dictate basics, such as which nights each parent will have the child living in his or her home, you can also use it to hash out matters such as who will take the child to extracurricular activities, summer camps and so on. Many parents also use parenting plans to determine how they plan to handle holidays and special occasions with their children. For example, a parenting plan may dictate that your child will spend major holidays with you one year and your ex-partner the next year.
You can also use a parenting plan to determine who has primary decision-making authority when it comes to your child, and when. For example, you may include language in your parenting plan that asserts you both must have a say in major decisions regarding your child. For less-critical matters, you may decide to, for example, let the parent the child is staying with make decisions on his or her behalf.
While these are a few of the types of matters you can address through a parenting plan, please note you can also work through numerous other areas of relevance when creating your agreement.