Working out a parenting plan is seldom easy. Even when parents have the child’s best interests at heart, the details of a parenting plan can turn negotiations into a tedious and prolonged confrontation. You may think it is good enough to draw out your schedule for custody on a calendar and leave the nuts and bolts to deal with as they come along. However, this is often a mistake.
Often parents who just want to get the process over with may rush through the parenting part of their divorce agreement. If you decide to do this, the consequences may be inconsistent parenting, growing resentment and confusion for the kids.
Working out your differences
Counselors and child therapists encourage parents to put as much detail as possible into a parenting plan. Even if you and your spouse agree that you will each parent as you see fit without interfering with each other, you would be wise to make this part of your settlement documentation. On the other hand, if you decide that you will be consistent with daily decision making, such as bedtime, screen time, homework policies and chores, these specifics belong in your settlement. Other decisions may include:
- Will the children keep certain belongings at each home, such as those purchased by the parent of the home, or will they be allowed to carry them back and forth and even leave them at the other house?
- Will you and your spouse need to discuss and agree on extracurricular activities for the children, especially if those schedules interfere with parenting time for one or the other of you?
- Will the children follow the dietary restrictions of one parent, or will each parent decide what to feed them?
- Will you alternate major holidays with the kids, or will each of you take certain holidays? Additionally, how will you adjust your schedule if a holiday overlaps custody time?
- What will you do if a child is sick when it is time to switch parents?
- What is your agreement for introducing new romantic interests to the children?
- Will you each have the right of first refusal if the other parent has a scheduling conflict during parenting time?
Right of first refusal requires your ex to call you first, before calling a sitter or grandparent, if he or she has to go to work, a meeting, or other appointment. This item and those listed may be only scratching the surface of the issues you and your ex need to resolve in your parenting agreement. Having a skilled Texas attorney at your side can help you to leave no stone unturned.