Parenting after divorce can be a difficult transition. In this environment, disputes may arise between parents. To prevent these arguments from making the situation worse – and to prevent some fights altogether – parents should create a solid parenting plan.
A parenting plan is an agreement in which parents establish rights and responsibilities for each person after a divorce. It essentially serves as a guidebook. To be most effective, your plan should be specific to your situation and include the following elements:
- Clearly defined schedules – Be specific and direct when it comes to the schedule. This means noting when and where exchanges will happen, where a child will spend holidays and the process for requesting a change or notifying each other of delays. Schedules are crucial for both parents and children, so be sure to clearly define your parenting schedule.
- Key priorities – Highlighting your key and shared priorities as parents in your plan can help shape the decisions you make as you parent separately. For instance, you might agree that you want your child to have and embrace opportunities to see the world. Or, you could say that commitment to education is most important to you both. Identifying these key priorities can guide you through difficult decisions because it ensures both parties at least start on the same page.
- Rules for reaching agreements – Parents rarely agree on everything when it comes to raising a child. As such, it is vital to have a plan for what you will do when you and your ex disagree. Will you divide decision-making responsibilities? Will you pursue mediation to help you reach an agreement? Will one person have more decision-making authority than the other? Setting rules for how to resolve disagreements can help you navigate these complex situations more easily.
While it is impossible to predict every dispute that could arise after divorce, a solid parenting plan can provide a good foundation that makes it easier to address any type of conflict that might come up.
It is also important that the agreement you reach reflect the language and procedures of either the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act, depending on whether you are separating or divorcing. To be certain that your agreement is valid and effective, you can review it with your lawyer.