One of the major decisions divorcing parents need to make is how to manage custody and visitation of the children. The court has guidelines to follow but prefers for the parents can work together to form their own parenting plan. This generally works out best for the parents, the children, and the court.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a road map for parents. It puts in writing how the parents will work together after their divorce for the best interest of the children. It lets parents and children know which parent is picking them up after school or other events.
It lets the children know when they will travel between the two new homes and where they will be staying each night. It is a written plan, for all family members to follow that lessens the stress and prioritizes the children.
As part of the plan, parents are encouraged to keep each other informed about important childhood events, like school plays and band concerts. Each parent should have access to the children’s grades and parent-teacher conferences. The parents agree about how to handle extra-curricular activities, like which parent (hopefully both) will attend sports practices and games.
The most damaging thing to children is not the divorce, but in having their parents in a constant conflict. When parents can communicate and work together for the best interest of the children, the conflict dies down, and the children feel secure.
Co-parenting also shows the children that their parents can come together and present a united front in a way that is healthy. This ultimately serves as a good model for the children. They see their parents agree on how to care for them and make mutual decisions for the future of their children after they are no longer a family unit.
Helping Parents Create a Parenting Plan
There are sources that can assist parents in putting together a plan they can both agree on:
- Their lawyers.
- The help of a neutral mediator.
- The Collaborative Divorce process where they have the help of a team to guide them through the parenting plan process. This includes a divorce coach or mental health professional.
Ultimately, when parents agree on the plan, they are much more satisfied than when the court just orders how custody and visitation will be and they are much more likely to follow the terms of the plan without any further need for court intervention.