Divorcing parents need to put together a parenting plan. Parenting plans provide a guide of how you and your spouse will continue to raise your child with his or her best interests in mind. In addition, a parenting plan provides stability for all parties involved and helps reduce future conflict.
I cannot stress enough that a parenting plan should be crafted with your child's best interest in mind. Your child needs both parents' support and this is an opportunity to minimize the stress your child will experience due to your divorce. A child is normally most vulnerable and will experience the most stress of an uncontested divorce after the divorce decree has been finalized.
Generally, there are two components to a parenting plan. The first one is a parenting schedule. This can include: times and days spent with a child, travel arrangements and where one parent will transfer the child to the other parent.
The second part is about decision-making. How will you and your spouse make decisions regarding your child? Considerations for the section include health, education and social issues.
Advantages to having a parenting plan include:
- You and your spouse will decide your child's future instead of a judge;
- Savings on court costs and other related legal expenses;
- Less stress and trauma for you and your immediate family members;
- Saving time, instead of waiting for a court to tell you how your child is going to be parented; and
- Minimizing the harmful effects of your divorce on your child, which usually come from post divorce arguments.
Each parenting plan is unique, just like each child is unique. You have the option of writing out how much or little detail you would like for your parenting plan. Your parenting plan should be tailored to your individual family's needs.
If you want to make your parenting plan legally binding then it will need to be submitted to the Pennsylvania court system. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add your parenting plan to your marital settlement agreement.
In case of a parenting plan not meeting the needs of a child, then changes are appropriate. Changes can be easily made if both parents are in agreement. If parents cannot find a common ground, a court may ultimately have to decide what is in the best interest of your child.
If you find yourself struggling with a parenting plan you may want to consider the help of a Divorce coach, professional psychologist or therapist, and parenting plan software.
Also, an internet search will provide you with ideas and sample plans to help you develop your individualized parenting plan.