Parenting another human being is hard — and parenting when you’re divorced can be even harder. Divorced parents often have vastly different opinions on issues that directly affect their children. Everything from what kind of food a child is allowed to eat to where they go to school can become serious issues.
A good parenting plan aims to minimize as many of those potential disputes before they get started. Parenting plans are only useful, however, if they address as many different issues as possible. Some issues routinely seem to be forgotten when most parents work out their agreements.
With that in mind, here are a few questions your parenting plan should address:
- Who can make decisions about major changes to your child’s appearance? At some point, one of your kids is bound to want to shave their head, dye their hair blue, get a nose ring or something else that at least one of you finds unacceptable. Can one parent give permission for such changes, or does it take two?
- How will trade-offs involving parenting time be managed? Things happen. You may need to skip a visitation week at some point — or your ex may want the kids for an extra weekend to take them on a trip. What plan do you need in place to prevent one parent from “stealing time” with the kids and depriving the other parent of their fair visitation?
- What kind of electronic access does each parent get to the kids? Cellphones, email, Skype, texts and social media help keep parents and children connected when they can’t be together. How should electronic communications between the absent parent and the kids be handled? What limits need to be placed?
- Do you need other provisions regarding electronics? Sometimes one parent is very permissive about cellphones or computers and the other is not. For example, do there need to be age limits on when a child can have their own phone? What about limits on screen time?
These talking points may just be the start of your parenting plan negotiations. If you’re unsure about what to include in your parenting plan, your attorney can help you.