What to include in your parenting plan to set your family up for success

 Parenting plans are an essential step toward emotional security for children dealing with the divorce of their parents. You may have heard about this crucial outline, especially if you’ve already begun the stages of a separation or divorce. Even if you’re familiar with the process, you might be surprised by what you left out or didn’t consider for your own plan.

This article is a brief look at the ins and outs of creating a successful plan that satisfies both the court and your children. We’ll discuss what a parenting plan is and if the parenting plan is missing a few key components.

 What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines how a child will be raised after their parent’s divorce or separation. The plan should include all aspects of the child’s life, including who will make decisions about their education, health care, and financial support. It keeps everything that comes after the divorce clear and efficient.

 Why Should You Create a Parenting Plan?

 Parents are some of the most important people in life for children. Even if the parents are divorced or separated, children need both parents to guide them properly. Your parenting plan must reflect possible contingencies to ensure it demonstrates the child’s best interest and to have a relationship with both parents.

 The process of separating is stressful and challenging, not only for the adults but for the children involved. You want to create a parenting plan to keep your kids safe and happy. It’s a tricky situation – while creating an outline is overwhelming, you won’t feel prepared for the future without one. Use this checklist to ensure you don’t forget these important six key sections when you file for a parenting plan in Washington State.

 What Should a Parenting Plan Include?

 There are a few key things to consider when creating your plan:

 Physical custody: where will the child live?

As a child of divorced parents, one of the most common questions I get is, “Where will the child live?” The answer to this question is not always clear-cut, as there are many factors to consider. The child’s residence is determined by what is in the child’s best interest: each party’s relationship with the child and that party’s contribution to the child’s welfare and development should be evaluated. Courts consider the emotional ties between the parent and the child and the party’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological developmental needs.

 Financial support: how will expenses be covered?

 As any parent knows, caring for children is expensive. But who is responsible for what expenses, and how is that determination made?

 Generally, both parents are responsible for their children’s expenses, including basics like food, shelter, and clothing. Parenting plans also include things like school supplies, extracurricular activities, and medical care. How these expenses are divided between the parents can be determined in a number of ways. Sometimes it is spelled out in a divorce or custody agreement. Other times, the parents simply come to an informal agreement between themselves.

 Decision making: who will make decisions for the child?

 Decision-making for children of divorced parents can be a difficult task. Both parents may want to be involved in the decision-making process, but deciding how major and minor decisions will be made in advance is your best bet. It is essential to decide who will make decisions for the child before the divorce is final. This will help to avoid any conflict or confusion later on.

Courts assume parents will have joint decision-making without extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances could be the parents’ history of being able to make decisions together or the distance between the parents’ locations. Joint decision is not required in cases of domestic violence or .191 parenting plan restrictions.  

 If the parents cannot agree, the court may have to decide who will make decisions for the child. The court will base its decision on what is in the child’s best interests.

 Parenting time: when will each parent spend time with the child?

 When parents divorce, one of the most challenging decisions is how to divide parenting time. There are many factors to consider, including work schedules, the distance between homes, and the child’s age and needs. The parenting plan should be in the child’s best interest as the primary consideration. How does each parent contribute to the child’s emotional, educational, and social development? Courts assume it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a stable environment with each parent performing and parenting the way they did during the relationship.

 Parents should also consider allowing for changes as the child ages. Things that work for a two-year-old child may not work when the child is fifteen. It is important to remember that both parents are still responsible for their child’s care and well-being, even if they don’t live together. It is also essential to be flexible and willing to adjust the parenting schedule as the child grows older and their needs change.

If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement with your ex-spouse about parenting time, it may be helpful to seek out a mediator or legal professional who can help you navigate this difficult situation.

 Holidays and special occasions: how will these be handled?

 Holidays can cause disagreements if separated couples do not face the question of how to handle celebrations and special occasions. Moments previously spent together in joy can be difficult for divorced parents and their children. If the parents live far apart, they must decide how to handle these days. Will one parent travel to be with the children? Or will the children travel to be with both parents? If the parents cannot agree on a plan, a judge will help make a final decision.

 No matter the arrangement, divorced parents must remember that their children need both of them. They should try to ensure that the children have time with both parents on holidays and other special occasions. This can be difficult for everyone, but it is important to try to make it work for the children’s sake. The parties’ physical distance will affect their ability to see their kids on holidays, so couples need to work together to create a holiday schedule that works for everyone. If there are other special occasions important to the family, make sure to account for those as well.

 Also, ensure your parenting plan accounts for which schedule has priority if holidays and special occasions overlap with other schedules, including vacation schedules.

 Your Child Comes First in A Parenting Plan

 Remember these things when creating your parenting plan: 

  • Consider the needs of your child
  • Be flexible
  • Be willing to compromise. 

As repeatedly stated above, your parenting plan should be created with your child’s best interests in mind. Keep these six things in mind, and you will be on your way to creating a successful parenting plan.


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