If you have children, creating a Parenting Plan is a necessary part of the divorce process. The more thoughtful and detailed the plan, the better the outcome because you’re creating the framework for the new family—but just as important—you’re working together to create consistency and the best possible solution for your children.
Custody can take a range of formats:
- Joint Legal Custody. Both parents are responsible for making decisions about a child’s health, education and welfare.
- Joint Physical Custody. Each parent will have significant periods of physical custody so the child has continuing contact with both parents.
- Sole Physical Custody. Children will live and be under the supervision of one parent.
- Sole Legal Custody. One parent has the right to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare.
- Visitation. A parent who does not have physical custody is usually given reasonable visitation time with the children, unless there is some reason it would be detrimental to them. The visitation schedule can be as detailed as necessary.
Other considerations as you develop your Parenting Plan:
- Make arrangements for holidays, school breaks and vacations. You’ve always spent the important holidays together, but things likely will change. Decide where your children will be spending Christmas or Easter, how they will spend their school vacations. Who pays for camp and other activities?
- Financial considerations. If one parent has physical custody, determine how you will deal with other expenses, including clothing and medical insurance. Who claims the child on his/her taxes?
- Education. Decide on private or public schooling, but also be thinking about the activities associated with school, including events and teacher conferences. Will you attend these together, separately or take turns?
- Medical Care. Kids have accidents and get sick–what happens when your son breaks his leg and ends up in the emergency room? Which parent will respond?
- Religion and cultural heritage. If you and your spouse come from different cultures, is there room to teach your child about both religions and cultures?
- Disciplining your children. What is acceptable to both of you? Strive for consistency.