Maybe your spouse just filed for divorce, or perhaps you are in the middle of a breakup with the other parent of your children whom you never married. Whether or not you got married, you will remain connected for the rest of your lives through the children you share.
A legally appropriate parenting plan can help control when you get to see your children and what role you play in their lives. A serious review of the following three topics with your lawyer can help you and the lawyer create a strong parenting plan:
Look realistically at your schedules and parenting ability
Have both of you been active in the lives of the children, or has one of you stayed home with the kids for years? Will your jobs prevent you from being there for the kids?
While an equal custody split is often held up as the ideal arrangement, it isn’t always reasonable. When one parent has far less practice parenting or a much more demanding career, they may not be able to commit to the same amount of parenting time as their ex.
Give special consideration to holidays, birthdays and summer vacations
Few matters complicate parenting arrangements more than special events and holidays. Everybody wants to be with their kids on their big birthdays and special family celebrations. You will need to consider what is a fair way to split the holidays and other special events, like summer vacation.
If possible, you might want to consider cooperating on holidays and birthdays. In some cases, it may even be possible for everyone to get together at once, as opposed to having two separate celebrations.
Get on the same page regarding discipline and rules
What time should your kids go to bed? How late can they sleep in during the summer? When do they get to go to parties? How much screen time is too much?
These are all concerns that you and your ex may be able to agree upon. If you can, that should help you enforce consistent rules at both houses. Including family rules in your parenting plan will likely make it harder for one parent to undermine the structure that the children need.
Taking the time to carefully put a plan together with your lawyer can be quite helpful to you and your kids.