Parenting plans are what parents need to create before or during the divorce process. If they share children, a couple needs to understand how custody and visitation will work. You can either work with your spouse to determine a schedule or let the court decide for you. However, if you do create a parenting plan yourselves, be sure to include the following information.

Residential Schedule

One of the most important aspects of a parenting plan is deciding where the child will live. If you want to split physical custody equally, how will your child spend time with you and your spouse? Will they live one month with you and one month with your spouse? Will the arrangement be bi-weekly? Determining this will help clarify much of the rest of the plan.

Visitation Schedule

If the child is living with one spouse most of the time, the other parent will need to visit that child. Having a visitation schedule will keep one parent in touch with their child even if they are not living together.

Transportation Arrangements

Having a set transportation plan can prevent mishaps down the line. If visitation is scheduled for every weekend, the visiting parent can indicate he or she will pick up the child on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. This prevents any confusion if both people are unsure if one parent is picking up the kid or dropping the child off at the other parent’s home.

Schedule for Birthdays

Each child’s birthday will need to be celebrated according to your family’s traditions. If they typically have a birthday party, will both parents throw one collective party or will they each throw a smaller one? Will the child’s birthday be split into halves or will one parent have custody one day while the other parent has custody over the weekend?

Schedule for Holidays

Holidays and school breaks are essential to plan in advance. People usually want to spend time with their children and families during the holiday, so getting a schedule down in advance can prevent an argument between the parents later. Likewise, if both parents want to take the child on vacation during the summer, they will allot a particular time during the summer, which they can use to help arrange their seasonal plans.

Backup Child Care Arrangements

Accidents and changes in plan pop up regularly. If one parent needs to rush into work and the other parent isn’t available to take charge of the child, both parents need to understand who to call or who the child will be staying with in the meantime. For example, having a go-to babysitter for both parents will help prevent panic later when one of the parents arrives home to find the child gone.

Preferred Discipline Methods

Even married couples disagree about how to discipline their kids. If you and your spouse had a hard time agreeing on how to discipline the children, deciding on a method you both agree with is helpful in a parenting plan.

Guidelines for Behavior

Consistency is ideal for children. If one parent has a curfew, the other parent should implement it as well to prevent a discrepancy between the parenting styles. Likewise, agreeing on cell phone access, piercings, body art, school participation, extracurricular activities, religious practice, and entertainment access are should all be agreed upon as much as possible in advance. Being restricted from watching R-rated movies by one parent and being allowed to watch them at the other parent’s house can influence how the child treats his or her parents.

If you need help creating a parenting plan or agreeing on its contents, talk to one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys in a case consultation. Smith Law Offices, LLC has been helping people resolve their family law issues for more than 20 years. Let us see how we can assist you with your particular situation.

Contact us at (636) 400-1177 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation with us today. We look forward to speaking with you about your situation.

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