Children usually have the highest priority in their parents’ lives, and when a divorce or separation arises, the children are likely considered first. Making sure the children are considered throughout the divorce or separation process and providing them with a smooth transition is important for the children’s future and wellbeing.

Going hand in hand with considering the children during the divorce or separation process is the creation of the parenting plan. This plan should be carefully thought out and as detailed as possible, even though it might take a lot of effort to think through possible scenarios for the future. While this plan is about the children, it will also provide a sense of relief to the parents because it can spell out the specifics of how many situations that may arise will be handled, alleviating the stress over such situations. In addition, when someone is approaching this situation, it is wise for them to lean on their experienced divorce/custody attorney who can guide them in the right direction and ensure they are not missing any important details.

There are many obvious items to include in a parenting plan such as the overall custody schedule of who will have the children and when, including birthdays, holidays, school events, etc.; however, there are other items that might be beneficial to include and are often overlooked, such as:

  • The Child’s Belongings – This is one that many parents forget as they are knee-deep in the details of their divorce or separation, and understandably so. However, thinking through this can save some trouble. There are items, and the expectations around them, that might be obvious such as sleeping items (e.g., blankets and a favorite stuffed animal) and school items that may be expected to be shuttled back and forth to each parent’s house. There are other items, though, such as toys, video games, and extracurricular items (e.g., bikes, skis, sleds) that may need to be considered.  
  • Parent to Parent Communication – Agreeing to the means of communication between the parents can relieve a great deal of stress after a separation or divorce. This might include how often the parents will be in touch, what forms of communication they will use, and which issues they would like to be contacted about.

  • Rules Regarding Technology & Devices – With the way technology continues to advance, this is an important item that should be considered when children will be splitting their time between two homes. If this is important to the parents, or even to one parent, the parenting plan might include details as to which devices the children are allowed to use, how often, and when. Also, if one parent would like to buy another device for the child, the parenting plan might specify if both parents need to discuss this before moving forward with the purchase.

RELATED: Read these co-parenting tips during the holidays.

  • Religions and Healthcare – One parent might assume that the other parent is on the same page with their beliefs and values based on their time together during the marriage; however, this might not be the case as their beliefs and values might change over time. In the parenting plan, the issues of  religion, vaccinations, and anything else related to healthcare that is important to them may be addressed.

  • Extracurricular Activities – While this might not seem like an issue that might arise during a co-parenting situation, this can become an unexpected concern. For example, if one parent does not support their child taking on a particular extracurricular activity, whether it is due to past experiences, risks, or the cost associated with it, and the other parent does, it needs to be included in the parenting plan.

A parenting plan can be tedious but it can provide so much relief after a divorce is final so parents can know what to expect moving forward. If you are in this situation, we hope the above ideas can help you think through what is important to include in your family’s parenting plan.

Are you approaching a divorce and need someone to help guide you through the steps to protect yourself and your family’s future? If so, our attorneys who are well-versed in all family law matters can help. Contact us now to set up a consultation however it is most convenient for you—via telephone, video, or in person.

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