Dividing things up during a divorce may prove difficult, but compared to trying to split time with your children, it may seem easy. One of the biggest hangups in a divorce proceeding is the parenting plan.
A parenting plan divides physical custody of the children between the two households. It is the framework of what will hopefully become a fluid and changing situation. In the beginning, newly divorced parents rely heavily on the nuts and bolts of the agreement. It is essential, therefore, that the plan includes critical pieces of information to make things easier for children and parents. Explore these three elements that a successful parenting plan should contain.
- When and where parents pick up kids
A rotating visitation schedule needs to consist of smooth transitions between homes. If the children are of school age, then pick ups and drop offs may work best at school or bus stops. Should your visitation agreement not include weekday exchanges, then it is up to the parties to designate an alternative. Some high-conflict situations may warrant the use of a neutral location. Otherwise, the other party’s home may work well.
- What a holiday schedule looks like
You will have to come up with two schedules of split time. One will involve a regular school-year schedule, even if the children do not yet attend school. The other will address holiday deviations and summer break. You may split holidays by alternating years, such as odd for one parent and even for the other. Regardless, consistency is key to an effective plan.
- Communication between parents about schedule changes
Something that may derail even the tightest parenting plan is a change. There are times when one parent needs to alter the day or time of physical custody. The way parties handle these changes is critical to continued cooperation. Therefore, set a time frame for when parents need to inform each other of a switch. Try a shared calendar that you each update and check regularly.
The parenting plan may help make post-divorce parenting more manageable. Stability is vital in keeping kids a priority.