When people divorce, there are many uncertainties about the next chapter. They need to consider where they will live, whether they will need to get a new job, and what they will do with their newfound freedom. There can be a lot to experience, as well as some difficult lessons to learn.
This can be especially true if you are divorcing as a parent. There is often uncertainty when parents go from being married and raising a child, to divorced and sharing custody. However, you do not have to go blindly into the situation; you can create a comprehensive parenting plan that serves as a valuable guide as you both move forward.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a guide for parents who will share custody of their children. These plans provide direction and detail the rights and obligations of each parent. Typically, parents create the plan cooperatively in mediation or collaborative sessions, though the courts will need to approve it.
What does it include?
In accordance with Minnesota statutes, parenting plans must include:
- The parenting time schedule (including holidays and vacation time)
- Details on which parent(s) will have decision-making responsibilities (regarding education, religion and medical matters)
- Directions for how to resolve child-related disputes
If you wish, your plan could include more than these basic elements. For instance, you might also address relocation or who will be responsible for extra child-related expenses.
Some parents specify which activities the children can and will participate in, as well as protocols for registering a child for activities that could affect the other person's parenting time.
Guidelines for communication (e.g. frequency and mode) between the parents between parent and child can also be helpful additions.
Creating a plan that's right for you and your child
Your parenting agreement should reflect your child's best interests as well as your wishes and rights as a parent. Whether this demands a specific, comprehensive agreement or a general, standard agreement will depend on your situation and your child's needs, as well as your ability to work cooperatively with your former spouse.