A parenting plan is a binding agreement between the parties who have shared parental responsibilities. They are used in the event of a breakup, separation, or divorce. It’s not mandatory to have a parenting plan. But this form of agreement can be helpful to fall back on in case issues arise concerning the children. A parenting plan includes the general principles and the time-sharing schedule for the kids. As well as, where the kids will stay on special occasions, such as holidays, birthdays, mother’s/fathers’ days, etc.
The plan also includes the shared responsibility for the well-being of the kids. In terms of schooling, health, and medicines, extra-curricular activities, etc. Here’s what to include in your parenting plan.
General Principles of Parenting Plan
A parenting plan almost always starts with general principles about how to raise the kids while living separately. This section of the parenting plan consists of matters such as how many times a week the child/children will live in each parent’s house. The plan also includes the strengths, and weaknesses of the children, and how to nurture them properly while living in separate houses. The plan also mentions the future parenting arrangements along with the emotional and physical well-being of their children.
Time-Sharing Schedule Plan
The plan mentions where and when the children will stay. And what happens when you want to make modifications to the schedule. Most separated parents draft a monthly schedule on a weekly basis. In this schedule, you can include which nights the kids will stay at their mother’s. And the nights when it’s the father’s turn.
You can also include the amount of time a child spends with one parent. Plus, how often each parent spends time on the phone talking to their kids. You can also include important notes such as the days each parent goes to pick up their kids from school, who has the responsibility to pick and drop the kids to sports practice and training, the number of hours the children spend with one parent in a week, etc.
Getting all this down in writing can ease the transition process for the children.
The Arrangement during School Holidays
If your children don’t have private schooling and are enrolled in public schools, you will normally have 13 weeks of school holidays. Which include half-term vacations and religious holidays. Many parents come up with a separate schedule for the holidays. This allows one parent to make up for the time lost during the school term. In this section, you can mention the arrangement of the kids during their time off from school.
Communication Is Everything For Your Parenting Plan
In addition, discuss the arrangement of communication channels that concern the well-being of the children. You can set up meetings on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis. Where both parents can discuss the issues and progress surrounding their kids. If you don’t think meeting your co-parent in person is a good idea, you can maintain a communication log.
This can cover the homework schedule, any medication your child is on and when to give them their dose, or any other concerns surrounding the children. Make sure to always keep it civil and respectful as there is a chance your child might read it.
This is a shared responsibility of both parents, and you should mutually decide where your child attends school. Your plan can also include what will happen at parent/teacher conferences, who will attend school functions and other events, and how to communicate regarding matters related to your child’s education and schooling. If the school is aware of your circumstances, they will gladly email both parents in their correspondence.
Costs and Expenses
In this section, you can cover all financial requirements concerning the children. This includes maintenance payments, the children’s monthly allowance, one-off expenses such as school trips and uniforms. This agreement can also include the shared responsibility of paying for mobile phone bills, subscriptions, and after-school activities.
Include Healthcare and Medical Expenses in Your Parenting Plan
Both parents have an equal right to have their input considered during the event of a medical emergency. Your insurance will probably cover most of the cost of the medical bill, but even during after-care, both parents need to be on the same page for the sake of their child’s health. Even if you’re giving medicine such as mild paracetamol to your child, the co-parent must be informed beforehand.
Introducing New Partners to your Children
This is almost always a contentious area to discuss as it is a sensitive area for your former partner as well as for your child. It’s always a good idea to discuss the course of action if either of the co-parents ends up having a new partner in their life. Deciding as co-parents on how to introduce a new partner to your child will help reduce the amount of emotional distress that is inflicted.
Children should not be abruptly introduced to the new person in your life, but instead, you should spend time communicating to your children the prospects of a new adult figure. Mentally preparing your children beforehand and introducing them to your partner in a well-thought-out way can have a positive impact on their mental stability and well-being.
It can be a challenging task to make sure both parents see eye-to-eye on matters concerning the upbringing of their children. You may disagree on multiple parenting methods, but if there is something you mutually agree on, then it should go in your plan. For example, allocating a certain time your child spends using the home computer or the time they go to bed on a school night. Disputes arising between co-parents are inevitable in the long run, especially when your children begin to get older. A healthy way to deal with this is to plan how you’ll settle these disputes.
A common practice is to agree on family mediation. You must also be mindful of not using derogatory remarks and comments about the other parent in front of your kids. Your kids love and respect you just as much as they respect the other parent. Try not to say anything which you wouldn’t like hearing from the other parent.