When it comes to custody and other parenting issues, it can be beneficial to the whole family to stay out of court. Although the court does have the best interests of a child in mind when making decisions, it can be difficult for those not close to the child to know what would really be best for him or her. To take back some control of their parenting decisions, many families in Edina and throughout the Twin Cities are choosing to settle custody and other family law matters outside of court through the creation of a parenting plan; this allows the parents to lay out a plan that’s truly best for their children.
It can be overwhelming to sit down and write a parenting plan with your ex. Your parenting plan should address nearly every aspect of your child’s life, so it’s no surprise that some parents aren’t sure where to begin! I’ve created an easy-to-follow checklist for anyone who is divorcing or separating from their child’s other parent, or anyone tasked with creating a parenting plan for another reason.
For additional legal guidance when creating your parenting plan, consult a parenting time lawyer in Edina who can advise you on common options, legal implications, and more.
Child custody is the most pressing issue to be addressed in a parenting plan when parents are divorcing or separating. For the most cooperative and successful parenting plan, consult a divorce attorney for parenting time in Edina who will ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
You need to discuss a variety of factors, including:
- Which days your child will be with each parent
- Drop-off and pick-up details, including time of day, location, and the parent(s) responsible
- Whether you and your co-parent will live a certain distance of each other (or near your child’s school, for example)
- Childcare and babysitting arrangements
- Frequency and method of communication between your child and their other parent while in your custody
- Which belongings will move from house to house with your child, and which will stay in one parent’s home
- How one parent’s move to another area or state will affect the parenting plan
- The financial responsibility of each parent in a variety of circumstances
Holiday and Vacation Times
Outside of your regular parenting schedule, there are bound to be special holidays, family events, and vacations you both would like your child to attend. If possible, try to predetermine holidays and annual events ahead of time.
You and your co-parent can alternate choosing which holidays you would like to have your child; this can be a good way to ensure fairness for both parents and your child. Another option may be first ranking the holidays in order of shared importance to your family, then cooperating to divide those holidays evenly.
Vacation time and unexpected events can be difficult to plan months or years in advance; many parents choose to allot a certain number of “flexible” days in their parenting schedule to allow for a last-minute change.
Relationships with Family and Friends
If your child has relationships with his or her grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and other extended family, it’s important to maintain those relationships. How frequently will your child see members of both parents’ family? When can he or she talk to them over the phone or via the internet? Plan ahead to preserve these important relationships.
Making Decisions About the Future
As your child’s interests, responsibilities, and privileges change with age, you’ll need to make parenting decisions both you and your co-parent are comfortable with. Put any specific aspects of the future in your parenting plan to mitigate any issues with decision-making down the line. For example, is your child expected to practice a certain religion? What would happen if they decided it wasn’t right for them?
You can also create broad guidelines for decision making in the future. Most parents want to follow some type of joint decision-making process. If you’re both happy with these compromises, put them in your parenting plan now to avoid hassle later.
Communication Between Parents
Discuss communication methods and determine the best way to get in touch with your co-parent. Options include phone calls, text messages, email, and in writing (via a communication log or journal). You should also determine what frequency of communication you’d both prefer and discuss times that you won’t be available to communicate. In an emergency, it may be helpful to have an alternate communication method, or some way for the other parent to know the matter is pressing. For example, if you primarily communicate via text message, agree to schedule any phone calls ahead of time except in an emergency.
Plan to Resolve Conflict Over Your Parenting Plan
Kids change as the grow up, and your relationship with your co-parent can also change over time. Things you’ve written in to your parenting plan now might not be relevant in five years, or they may need to be adjusted based on your child’s needs. It’s helpful to add a contingency plan for times like this.
If you and your co-parent disagree on your plan in the future, how will you successfully and civilly resolve those issues? Will you use a counselor or mediator? Will you seek the assistance of the family law attorney Edina who helped you create your plan initially? If so, how will you pay for their services?
If you’d like to avoid this added cost, another option might be involving an unbiased third party who knows your child well and can help you and your co-parent make fair decisions. The options are endless, so pick whatever works for you and your child.
Time to Get Planning!
Now that you have a parenting plan checklist, you and your co-parent can conquer the process and create the best plan for your child, possibly without involving the court in your decision making. If you’d like assistance with creating or modifying your parenting plan, contact me at (612) 564-0137 or via my website. I provide family law services in Edina and throughout the metro area.