As you move through the divorce process, you’re pulled in many different directions. You have questions about what will happen to your family home, while also dealing with concerns about child custody and child support. And that’s just the start.
In all of this, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of creating a common sense, workable parenting plan. Neglecting to take the right steps now will result in additional challenges, tension and stress in the future.
Through mediation, you and your ex-spouse have the power to create a parenting plan that puts you in position for co-parenting success for many years to come.
But what should it include?
Creating a parenting plan is easier said than done, as there’s no right or wrong way of doing so. The primary points to work into your agreement include:
- Where the child will live
- A visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
- If one or both parents will have legal custody
- A schedule outlining holiday, birthday and vacation schedules
- A plan for contact with extended family members, such as grandparents
Disputes and changes
Language regarding how to deal with disputes and changes can make for a good addition to any parenting plan.
Remember, the plan you create up front may not work for the both of you in the future. Changes are likely to be necessary as your children age, as their schedules will change.
Without this language, you may struggle to work through disputes or make changes in the future.
If you create a parenting plan in mediation, it will be sent to a family law court for final approval by a judge.
Depending on the circumstances, the judge may request that you attend an informal hearing during which you answer basic questions about the agreement. This helps to ensure that both individuals are comfortable with the terms and conditions, as well as what’s expected of them.
A violation is a big deal
A court approved parenting plan is a legally binding court order, so you’re under obligation to follow the terms and conditions.
If your ex-spouse continually violates the parenting plan, talk to them about what’s wrong while learning more about your legal rights. You may need to take action, such as requesting a modification, to protect your time with your children.