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What is a parenting plan?

Divorce proceedings concerning children have changed much since your parents got divorced long ago. Joint custody and preservation of parental rights for both parents are the primary goals of the court.

One thing that facilitates the process is the parenting plan. Creating this plan with your soon-to-be ex comes with many benefits. Your divorce may go more quickly, there will be less confusion over responsibilities and you both will be likelier to stick to the agreement.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a document that outlines everything related to divorce and your children, such as:

  • Physical custody
  • Legal custody (decision making)
  • The visitation schedule, including holidays, birthdays and vacations
  • Child support
  • The duties of each parent

It should also include provisions on how to handle modifications to the plan, such as when one parent gains new employment or moves. You cannot prepare for every possible scenario, so decide on a simple formula for dealing with changes as they come.

What to include in a parenting plan

Additional details to outline in your plan depend on your specific circumstances and the ages of your children. For example, if you have little ones, you may need to discuss daily child care and approved babysitters. For older children, you may need to consider involvement in and support for extracurricular activities. Other topics to raise are religious worship, education, house rules, discipline, health care, special needs, parent dating and remarriage. Make sure you both have access to records, information and incidents concerning your children, and maintain open communication with them.

As you create your plan, focus on what is best for your children. Divorce brings so much change, instability and unpredictability into your children's lives. When you and your ex are on the same page regarding parenting matters, it will help your children adjust better and avoid some of the negative side effects of divorce.

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