Creating a Parenting Plan
One of the most difficult elements of a divorce settlement for parents who are separating is the creation of a parenting plan. These plans, which are not just reserved for divorcing couples, but all parents who are not living together, outline the basics of child care, custody, and decision making, and are enforceable once they are entered into.
Creating a parenting plan can be difficult, not only because a plan is designed to be comprehensive, but also because parents may not be in agreement about the provisions of a given plan. As you start to create your parenting plan, consider the following information.
What’s Included in a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is meant to clarify any issues regarding how you and your child’s other parent will care for your child. As such, Timesharing/Visitation Guidelines set forth by Kentucky courts recommend that a parenting plan include information regarding:
- Timesharing of the child on a regular schedule (excluding holidays and school breaks);
- Travel and transportation of the child between home and school, extracurricular activities, and the residence of the other parent;
- School-related issues, such as who the school should call if there is an emergency, what the child’s education plan will be, etc.;
- Where the child will spend their birthday and either parent’s birthday;
- Holiday parenting time schedule; and
- Winter and summer parenting time schedule.
Your parenting plan should also include information about how parents will handle any schedule changes, make decisions about issues that arise in a child’s life, and negotiate any problems/changes/issues that surface. Details about how parents will communicate information about the child should also be included.
Other Important Issues to Consider
- Sleepovers: Does the child have both parents’ consent to sleepover at their friend’s houses. In the case of babysitting, should the other spouse have the first right before the parent calls a family member?
- Childcare: Who will watch the children when both parents are unavailable? Are there certain family members that both parents can agree on leaving the children with? Will the child be placed in daycare when the parent goes to work?
- Dating partners: The parents should agree on a plan for exposing the children to new partners. This can save a lot of trouble down the line. Should there be a certain time passed dating before introductions are made? Can the new partner spend the night when the children are at the house?
- Picks and drops: How will the kids be transferred? Will you meet the other parent at a neutral location?
- Discipline: You and the other parent should agree on disciplining methods beforehand. It is recommended that you consider a child’s propensity of becoming more troublesome with age. Will the parent with custody be responsible for disciplining the children or will both parents carry out their responsibilities?
- Sleeping arrangements: Will the child have his/her own space in both homes? Will the child share with siblings?
- Cellphone and internet usage: This is an important thing to agree on. What are the rules regarding internet and cellphone usage? Are there any limits on internet access?
- Communication: Is it okay if the other parent calls or texts the children? Make sure you set boundaries that are agreeable to both of you.
- Extracurriculars: Will the child join the debate team or play sports or something else after school? Who will ensure the child gets to the practice? In case the child takes any lessons, who will be responsible for related activities?
- Health: Both parents should agree on mental, medical, and dental care
How to Create an Effective Parenting Plan
Working with your child’s other parent to create a parenting plan can be difficult, especially if you are dealing with your own emotions surrounding a divorce or separation. However, remember that the purpose of creating a parenting plan is to protect your child’s best interests. Some tips to create an effective parenting plan include:
- Put your child’s needs, not your own, first;
- Be willing to compromise;
- Be open to your child’s other parent’s requests and suggestions;
- Be amicable and civil, and refrain from letting anger or frustration get the best of you; and
- Put your own emotions and feelings about your child’s other parent aside as you create the parenting plan.
It is also recommended that you hire an attorney who can represent you during the process, and that you and your child’s other parent work with a third-party mediator to help you create a parenting plan if one cannot be reached on your own.
What Happens When You Cannot Agree on a Parenting Plan
If you and your child’s other parent cannot work together to create a parenting plan that you are both in agreement about, then you will submit your own version of a parenting plan to the court. Then, the court will review suggestions from both you and your child’s other parent, and ultimately decide on timesharing and decision-making based on numerous factors, such as the wishes of each parent, the child’s adjustment to home and school, the preferences of the child depending upon the child’s age, the health of all parties, and more.
Contact Our Kentucky Child Custody Attorneys Today
At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, we recognize the sensitive nature of creating a parenting plan and determining custody of a child, and understand how emotional and challenging this topic can be for parents. When you call our law firm, we work hard to help you create a parenting plan that emphasizes the best care for your child, and that is fair to all parties. If reaching an agreement out of court is not possible, we also have in-court experience, and will be prepared to represent you. To learn more, please call our law offices today at 502-895-2626, send us an email, or visit us in person.