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Top 10 Components to a Custody Parenting Plan:

Parenting Plan or Co Parenting

The Fulton County Courthouse offers a really great sample of a Custody Agreement in their Divorce Forms Kit. It is a comprehensive parenting plan that includes these 10 components. The more detailed a parenting plan is, the greater the chance to reduce frustration and friction between well-meaning Co-Parents.

1-Outline final decision making- When parents cannot agree final “tie-breaking” authority lies with one over the other in the areas of Medical, Academic, Religious and Extra Curricular Activities for the children.

2-Specify a weekly visitation schedule of days with specific parent. Outline each day of the week and who children will be with. This creates a schedule the children can count on and parents can plan work/social activities around.

3Specify child exchange details (a) time of exchange, (b) location of exchange, (c) who brings or picks up child. Many plans specify that the parent that has the child will deliver the child to their Ex at a specific time and to a specific place.

4-Specify holiday/vacation breakdown of visitation and alternating years. Dividing significant holidays evenly each year and assigning the schedule to even and odd years per parent eliminates a need to renegotiate each year.

5-Specify visitation for Child’s birthday, Parent’s birthday, Father’s day and Mother’s Day. Remember to address how the child’s birthday will be shared and parent/gender specific honor days.

6-Address contact of child when with the other parent. Agreeing on how often and by which means the parent can contact the child keeps the communication open with the child but can also set reasonable boundaries.

7-Address contact of opposite parent in case of medical emergency with child. Having both parents informed as soon as possible if there is an emergency with the child is a reasonable expectation that should be laid out in advance.

8-Address the rights of both parents to access child’s medical and academic records.

9-Consent by both parents to make all decisions separately and jointly taking into consideration the child’s best interest. These statements create a vow between Co-Parents that the child’s interest will always be considered a priority.

10-Outline a process of how the plan can be modified if needed. A process that eliminates the need for legal/court intervention can save the family unnecessary professional fees.

I personally find so many great benefits to a detailed parenting plan:

  1. Minimizes the contact between Ex’s in a high conflict Co-Parenting relationship
  2. Allows Parents to plan in advance for holiday/break travel
  3. Gives Parents an outline to fall back on if a conflict does arise
  4. Parents have the flexibility to not follow the plan if they both agree to vary it
  5. Minimizes interference from a third party (relatives, significant other or step-parent)
  6. Dictates consistency and stability to the parenting of the kids which is key for the kids emotional resiliency

 

Over the years I have observed many Co-Parents without thorough parenting plans have lingering frustrations and arguments over visitation that could have been avoided had they spent the time to develop a detailed plan at the time of divorce.

 

Taking the time to do this up front will greatly reduce conflict down the road and minimize the effects on the children. A sample parenting plan can be found here http://amzn.to/1xfc9lV along with great tips on how to tell the children, when to tell the children and common questions the children may ask and how to answer them.

Do you have a personal story that you can share regarding these issues? I would love to hear from you.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR. Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my organization, Transitions Resource, LLC. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.

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