Three Things to Consider When Creating a Parenting Plan

In this week’s video I want to talk with you about the things that you should be thinking about as you’re getting ready to negotiate or draft a parenting plan for your kids. I’m just going to highlight the things that you should keep at the top of your mind and if you can address with the other parent.

The first thing is of course, custody or legal decision-making in some states. What that means is yours and the other parent’s ability to make major decisions about the lives of your children. And by major decisions I mean major decisions in the area of medicine, education, school, and personal care decisions. As you’re thinking about negotiating a parenting plan with the other party do you want sole custody or joint custody so that’s? That’s the number one thing that you have to address. Once you’ve hammered that out or nailed down whatever it is that you want then you have to start thinking about what sort of parenting time plan you’re going to be asking the other party to share with you. By parenting plan I mean the amount of time that each of you is spending with the children. And there are lots of different parenting plans out there you really should be thinking about the best interest of your kids and coming up with a plan for them. Some people have a week on week off plan, other people have where one parent gets every other weekend, so I would encourage you to do your research look at websites and figure out what plan works best for the kids and lay it out, map it out with begin times and end times.

Once you have in your mind whatever parenting plan it is that you’re going to go for the next thing to do is to move on to holidays. What are you going to be requesting that you and the party do when it comes to holidays and you may not celebrate the same holidays that most other people do, for example, not everybody celebrates Christmas not everybody celebrates Easter, I’ve had clients who celebrate different types of holidays for example I had one client who actually he and his ex. considered the Super Bowl a holiday, Super Bowl Sunday so they included that in their schedule. So you’re going to want to be thinking about those days that are important to you and your family and what you want those days to look like moving forward.

When you do your proposed holiday schedule it’s really important in my mind to define what each holiday is going to be in terms of start times and end times. Because really as I talked about in the video last week that’s where people get into conflict especially around this time of year Christmas, New Year’s if they don’t have start and end times it really could lead to a major incident that creates and not so great memory for the kids.

So as you’re thinking about your custody and parenting time arrangement not only do you want to think about regular parenting time and holiday parenting time but you also want to think about vacation parenting time. As your kids get to be school-age they’re going to be getting vacation, summer vacation in most cases, some kids do go to school year round but you and the other parent to have the ability to take a week or two with the kids and go out of state, or go to Disneyland, to take a trip, if so then it’s super important for you to write into your parenting plan or proposed to the other party what specific vacation schedule you’re asking for. You also should be putting out there what notification schedule you want. In other words how far in advance do each of you need to let that other parent know if you’re going to be taking vacation? And what sorts of information do you want to have before your child goes on vacation with the other parent? And are you willing to provide that same information?

So those are the four main areas from my perspective that you should be addressing as you’re thinking about negotiating custody and parenting time with the other party. Or if you’re going into the courtroom you really need to have outlined these things for the court with specificity. The more specific you are the better off you and the other parents are going to be in the future especially if a dispute comes up because you can go right to the parenting plan and look at it and it it’s not in the parenting plan that you’re going to probably find yourselves in court. And the great thing is even if you lay out certain start and end times for a holiday but you and the other parent decide to do something different that’s great as long as you both agree. But if there’s a disagreement then you always go back to the default which is the parenting plan.

So remembering your parenting plan, address your custody designation whether that sole or joint custody, address the regular parenting time, address holiday parenting time and address vacation parenting time. And those are the four main areas that I encourage you to look at.