At the end of the 20th century, 43% to 46% of marriages in the US were predicted to end in dissolution, according to the Journal of Marriage and Family. Divorces are hard in any circumstance, but when there are children involved things become increasingly more complicated. It’s important that parents attempt to put their differences aside to create an effective parenting plan, or custody agreement, that will provide structure and stability to help children adjust more easily during this period of change. Here are five tips for creating efficient and thorough parenting plans.
Your parenting time schedule must comply with your state custody guidelines in order to be accepted by the court. Joint physical custody, also known as shared physical custody, means that both parents are equally responsible for the physical care of the child(ren), and have substantial and frequent living time with the child(ren).
For joint or shared custody situations, optional parenting time schedules can include:
For sole custody situations, optional parenting time schedules can include:
One thing to keep in mind while developing a schedule is the age of the child. Mental health practitioners generally recommend that toddlers and preschool-age children benefit from more frequent transitions, such as a 2-2-3 plan, in which the children live with one parent for two days, the other parent for the next two days and then the first parent for the following three days.
Your parent plan will need to specify legal custody, which defines who makes important decisions about the children, such as medical, dental and emergency care. Options for legal custody include:
Parenting plans need to contain enough detail so that they’re easy to understand and enforce, according to the Judicial Council of California. Families can avoid repeated trips back to court for post-divorce litigation and mediation by avoiding common errors and oversights:
While the goal of the parent plan is to account for as much of the future as possible, there may be times when unexpected situations occur. Including stipulations on how to revise plans will help parents to easily deal with these issues in the future, such as:
How parents talk to each other in front of their child(ren) and about each other to their child(ren) is important. In order to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship, experts advise parents to develop a collaborative and cooperative business-type relationship with their previous partners. Suggestions for maintaining positive communication include:
If parents struggle to communicate in a civil manner, a single form of online communication may be effective to help parents communicate more clearly and frequently.
Of the addictive substances in the United States, alcohol is the most commonly used with 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, struggling with alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Frequently an issue in divorce matters, alcohol abuse merits added specifications in parenting plans.
The Courts generally acknowledge that children benefit from consistent time with both of their parents, as long as it is in the best interest of the child. Parenting plans should be drafted with the goal of allowing the parent experiencing Alcohol Use Disorder to have the opportunity to maintain or build a meaningful relationship with the child(ren), without compromising the child(ren)’s health and safety. This can be achieved by:
Establishing an organized parenting plan is an important part of the divorce process. Parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan amongst themselves risk having a judge make the demands based on the best interests of the child(ren) without knowing each family’s situation, child(ren) and parents.