Co-parenting is not easy. Managing schedules, decision making, logistics, and money are just a few of the issues that can cause headaches for co-parents as they try to work together to raise their children in the best way possible.
For most people, having a written parenting plan to help guide them in their co-parenting can make all the difference in the world. When co-parents have their rights and responsibilities as to their children outlined in a plan that has been adopted by the Court, things tend to go a lot smoother overall, both for the co-parents and for the children.
A parenting plan assists greatly in the setting of expectations for both parents and children. It addresses many of the issues that arise in a co-parenting relationship, and outlines to the parties how most potential disputes can be solved. While neither parent usually gets every single thing they want in a parenting plan, having a plan that both parties agree and/or compromise on sets the co-parents up for both short and long term success, and is in the best interest of the children.
So, what does a parenting plan normally include? The short answer is usually many things. The more items specifically addressed by the plan, the better the chances of the co-parenting going smoothly for both the children and the co-parents.
One example of something that is included in just about every parenting plan is decision-making responsibility. In a co-parenting relationship, who gets to decide what sports the children will play and where? Who gets to decide what doctors they visit, where they go to school, and what extracurricular activities they participate in? As parents know, there are countless decisions to be made regarding their children’s lives and having a decision-making process outlined in a parenting plan, with a specific allocation of decision-making responsibilities can truly help avoid conflict between co-parents and promote healthy and efficient co-parenting. There are few things worse than a child missing out on a great opportunity, or not getting the timely care they deserve because parents cannot agree on something, whether it be an important decision with lasting implications or a minor day-to-day one.
Another example of a topic addressed in parenting plans is the parenting schedule itself. Outlining a schedule of each co-parent’s parenting time with the children allows both the parents and children to have set expectations about when they will see each other. Having a routine is important for kids, and it is also important for adults. When each parent understands when they will see their kids, for how long, and how their kids will get to where they need to be, the parents and children can focus more on enjoying their time with each other, and worry less about when they will get time together, or other logistical issues. Parenting time is usually addressed in plans on a weekly basis, but also can include seasonal adjustments as kids are in school during the school year and tend to have more free time during the summer. Parenting plans also address holidays, so that parents and kids won’t have to wonder or argue about which parent will have parenting time on a given holiday during a given year.
Parenting plans may also address financial support for the children. A plan can outline the amount of child support to be paid from one parent to the other and can address things like expenses for extracurricular activities, medical and dental expenses that are not covered by insurance, and other potential child related expenses.
In short, parenting plans address many of the potential issues that tend to arise during the raising of children in a co-parenting environment. Parenting plans promote compromise between the parents, promote what is in the best interest of the children, and promote healthy co-parenting overall. Parenting plans may be modified as circumstances for co-parents and for the children may and will change during the course of the co-parenting relationship. The Law Offices of TOWN & TOWN LLC are experienced in the drafting of, enforcement of, and modification of parenting plans in Colorado. Having a strong plan in place now can save you numerous headaches down the road. Call us for a free consultation.