In our three part series on creating a parenting plan, I have thus car covered parts one and two: what is a parenting plan and how to start a parenting plan and now I have some suggestions for what you may want to include in your parenting plan. Keep in mind that each parenting situation is unique and the suggestions below serve as a guide only. If you feel you need additional help you may want to contact a Pennsylvania divorce coach.
Just because you decide to write out a parenting plan does not mean you and your spouse are necessarily hostile. There are several practical reasons for having a parental plan in place. You and your spouse will save time on having already made major decisions for your child. Also, it's helpful to have a document to refer to in case you forget some of the details of your agreement.
When you began negotiating your parenting plan with your spouse (co-parent) keep it simple. Start with items you believe you can both agree upon and then move forward with the more difficult subjects. Establishing consensus early on can help facilitate a smoother flow to the negotiation process.
The first matter you may want to consider is what type of custody you will have. Will you and your spouse want to have shared physical custody? Physical custody is when a person has a significant period of physical custodial time with a child. There is also partial custody, when a parent has the right to physical custody of the child for less than the majority of the time.
Will you share legal custody? Legal custody covers who has the right to make major decisions for the child for example, medical and educational. Consider if you will have joint custody or if one parent will have sole custody.
Creating a yearly calendar can help avoid conflict of how to spend holidays, birthdays school breaks with child. Consider how you and your co-parent want to spend time with your child. For example, will you split the summer in half; will alternate years for custody on birthdays? Planning ahead also lets your child know what to expect and gives a sense of stability, which is especially crucial for younger children.
When creating your parenting plan you may want to think about how your child will spend his or her time with family members. Who will be the influencing factors in their growth? How much time will he or she spend with grandparents, stepparents and siblings? Are there family reunions to take into account?
Keep in mind communication can be just as important. How will your child be able to communicate with family members when they can't see them in person? Will they be able to call or use a service like Skype? How often will your child have access to family members?
Money can be a challenging subject when working out a parenting plan. It can be difficult to know all the costs which will be incurred ahead of time. Here are some suggestions for covering costs associated with your child:
- Which parent pays for what? Will you split costs, is there a parent who earns substantially more?
- How will you handle costs if expenses are considerably higher at one parent's house?
- Will there be opportunities to cut down on expenses? For example, if one parent needs a babysitter can the other parent babysit for the child?
- How will your child's extracurricular activities be financially covered?
- Who will cover your child's expenses for travel? This can include visiting grandparents in a different state.
- How will you handle medical expenses? This can range from yearly eye exams to medical emergencies and health insurance.
- Will there be a parent in charge of educational expenses such as – tuition, tutors, and summer advancement programs?
These are just some tips and suggestions to include in your parenting plan during your uncontested divorce. There may be other areas you feel are important, such as religious education and discipline. You may want to add a clause to meet within the first six months to see how your plan is working. Stay flexible in case you may need to make some changes with your co-parent.