A proposed parenting plan is a document that outlines how you and your ex-spouse will share the responsibilities and rights of raising your children after a divorce. You divorce will be faster and easier if you write a clear and detailed parenting plan that reflects the best interests of your children and respects the wishes of both parents. Here are some steps to help you write a proposed parenting plan for your divorce:
1. Identify the main issues and goals. Think about what aspects of parenting are most important to you and your ex-spouse, such as custody, visitation, decision-making, communication, child support, etc. Write down your main concerns and objectives for each issue, and try to prioritize them according to their importance.
2. Consider the needs and preferences of your children. Depending on their age, maturity, personality, and relationship with each parent, your children may have different needs and preferences regarding their living arrangements, schedules, activities, education, health care, etc. You should take into account their opinions and feelings when drafting your parenting plan, and try to accommodate their wishes as much as possible, as long as they are reasonable and consistent with their best interests.
3. Discuss the parenting plan with your ex-spouse in good faith. Writing a proposed parenting plan is an opportunity to cooperate with your ex-spouse and reach a mutually acceptable agreement that benefits your children. You should approach the discussion process with respect, honesty, flexibility, and willingness to compromise. You should also avoid using your children as pawns or bargaining chips, or making unrealistic or unfair demands. If you and your spouse can’t agree on issues, it is better to identify the disagreement when you have a Judge to set rules to prevent frequent returns to court.
4. Try to identify future issues and discuss them at the beginning. Issues such as vaccines, technology, time with relatives, and introduction to future romantic interests should be discussed.
A. In most cases, the parents will need to discuss and agree on major medical decisions for children. During the COVID-19 crisis the choice of having a child vaccinated became a public debate. Should the parents agree for children to receive vaccines that are recommended by the pediatrician? Do both parents have the same view about vaccines?
B. Many parents create rules for children using technology. These rules may limit technology at meals, prior to bed time, and other times. Whenever possible, the children should have the same set of rules for use of technology in both households. Parents should agree if technology may be taken away as a punishment for children.
C. Parents should consider the existing relationships between children and other relatives. Grandparents, uncles, and aunts may have significant relationships with the children. These relationships should be considered. If it is in the children’s best interest to continue these relationships then the parents should try to include this in the parenting plan.
D. It should be expected that both parents may have future relationships with romantic partners. However, romantic partners do not need to be introduced to the children at the beginning of the relationship. If the relationship becomes long term then it is expected that the children will meet the new partner. While drafting a parenting plan, it is best to discuss when and possibly how the new person will be introduced to the children.
4. Write down the details of your agreement in clear and specific terms. You should include information such as:
– The type and frequency of custody and visitation for each parent
– The division of decision-making authority and responsibility for each aspect of the child’s welfare
– The methods and frequency of communication between the parents and the children
– The arrangements for child support, health insurance, education expenses, etc.
– The procedures for resolving disputes or modifying the plan in the future
6. Review and finalize your proposed parenting plan. Before submitting your proposed parenting plan to the court you should review it carefully and make sure it is complete, accurate, consistent, and realistic. You should also have a lawyer review it and advise you on any legal issues or implications.
Writing a proposed parenting plan for your divorce can be a challenging and emotional task, but it can also be a rewarding one if you focus on the best interests of your children and work together with your ex-spouse to create a positive and stable environment for them.