While a divorce can wreak havoc on the physical, mental and emotional health of the spouses involved, it can be particularly difficult if children are involved. Divorce is rarely an easy process, and finding a way to parent successfully after separation can be stressful, frustrating and painful for children and parents. A successful parenting plan can help to minimize the bad feelings and misunderstandings, and guarantee that children have stable parents to rely on despite their changing family situation. Before parents can create a successful parenting plan, they must understand what elements should be involved.
Time schedules for parenting
Many misunderstandings occur when it comes to holidays and special occasions for parenting. While specific custodial agreements may be reached in your divorce, it's important that your children understand where they will be and when. In your parenting plan, include information about where your children will spend those important days, and find ways to include both parents when they are wanted or needed.
Payment for extra expenses
The custodial parent may receive child support from the non-custodial parent, but extra expenses aren't always covered in these agreements. Things like vacations, extracurricular activities or gifts may be left out of the child support plan if there is no agreement about who is required to pay for these things. Include these items in your parenting plan.
Communication for parents
If the parents can't speak to each other without escalating and fighting, there may be better ways to communicate when dropping children off or picking them up. Determine if phone, text, email or some other type of communication is best for you and your ex. This protects your children from having to deal with situations that upset them.
Rules for both homes
If children are moved from one home to another on a regular basis, it can be difficult to adhere to different sets of rules in each house. If parents are interested in making it easy on the kids, it's beneficial to include rules that apply to both homes in your parenting plan. This means that you and the other parent are on the same page about what to expect from the children and what rules are important to both of you.
Resolving parental disputes
Inevitably there will be times when parental disputes regarding the children will arise, and in your parenting plan, there should be a procedure for how to deal with these situation. You may choose to use a mediator or other nonbiased individual to help you settle these disputes.
A parenting plan is vital to keeping your children happy and healthy after a divorce. An attorney may be able to answer questions about a parenting plan and what is important to include in it.