The parenting plan that you draft with your ex will govern your co-parenting relationship for years to come. Although it is possible for either of you to ask the courts for a modification, most couples would prefer to avoid going back to court repeatedly over parenting issues.
You can set your family up for an easier time transitioning to shared custody by carefully negotiating your parenting plan. What inclusions are necessary for a thorough parenting plan that will help your family minimize conflicts and challenges?
An appropriate division of responsibilities and rights
It can take some time for parents to reach an agreement about the right way to split up parenting time. The actual division of your parenting time is important, as is the plan for how you will handle special events like high school graduation, holidays and school vacation.
Additionally, you need to consider decision-making authority. Joint legal custody where parents have to agree on major decisions is common. However, some families find it useful to designate one parent as the one with the final say in certain matters, like health care or religion.
Your expectations for one another and the children
Do you want your ex to communicate with you in writing about any changes to your parenting schedule? What limitations do you expect them to enforce when they have your children?
From how much screen time you want your children to have at different ages to your standards for their performance at school, there are many expectations and rules for your children that the two of you should clarify and include in your parenting plan.
You may also want to include expectations for one another, such as how you communicate with each other and how you share important information, like report cards and medical records.
Your approach to parenting disputes
Even if you and your ex quickly develop a positive dynamic where you support one another and keep the focus on the children, there will inevitably be issues. Maybe your teen will want to start dating when one of you feels they are still too young. Perhaps you disagree about the appropriate discipline after your child’s suspension from school.
Whether you agree to sit down with a co-parenting counselor or you want to use a family friend or pastor as a mediator during such disputes, having rules for how you will handle disagreements can help stop them from doing real damage to your co-parenting relationship.
When you include appropriate details in your parenting plan, you and your ex will have an easier time cooperating with one another for the benefit of your shared children. Identifying the most important concerns for your family as you make the change to shared custody arrangements will lead to a better and more effective parenting plan.