Parenting After Divorce: Don’t Forget to Address These Key Factors in Your Parenting Plan

When going through a divorce there are many things that need to be done correctly in order to position yourself and your family in the best possible circumstances once the divorce has been finalized. For parents in Utah, one of the most important things you have to do will likely be creating an effective parenting plan. All divorcing couples that have joint custody of minor children need to draft a plan and then have it approved by the court.

A good parenting plan is an effective way to ensure both parties are on the same page so that there is less risk of conflict down the road—allowing for much more effective co-parenting. When handled correctly, this plan can go a long way toward helping to create an environment where the children are able to adjust to their new way of life and successfully cope with the changes they are facing. However, it is essential that you address a wide range of scenarios which are easy to overlook. Below we have detailed some key factors which you must be sure to include in your parenting plan.

Holiday Parenting Time

Holidays are among the most difficult times for divorced families. Since the children can’t be in two places at once, one of the parents probably isn’t going to be able to spend time with them on these important days. Most parents identify about ten holidays that need to be split up, and they each take five per year. Each year, the holidays swap parents, so that throughout the kid’s childhood they get to create traditions with each parent. If one particular holiday is very important for one parent, but not so important for the other, it is possible to agree to make it so one parent gets that holiday every year. And keep in mind, every family’s needs are different and you certainly have the ability to draft a unique or innovative plan that suits your specific circumstances.

Special Events

One of the nicest things about creating a parenting plan together is that you can agree to just about anything you want, within reason. Many families have special events that may not be official holidays, but are still very important to the family. This could be an annual camping trip, a family reunion, or some other type of event. The parenting plan should address how these types of special events will be managed in writing so that the children don’t have to miss them. Additionally, it is important to address unforeseen special events that may arise. You cannot plan for everything, and it is helpful to have a protocol in place that will allow parents to adjust the normal visitation schedule on an as-needed basis.

School Schedules

When the children reach school age, it is important to be able to have a set schedule for them so they can have a good routine. Identifying when each parent will get the children, and who will drop them off at school which days, is a great place to start for ensuring they have a stable schedule that they can excel in.

Summer Vacation

During the summer it is often necessary to make adjustments to the schedule that is in place during the school year. Many people like to take family vacations, or other events, and knowing what the parenting time schedule will be ahead of time can be very helpful. Whether you choose to split parenting time up weekly, or find some other agreement, setting these things up now is very important.

Child Care (If Necessary)

If your children are young, you will want to make childcare arrangements. Many parents state that child care will only be used when neither of the parents are available to watch them (if both parents work). You can also list certain people who are not permitted to watch the children, which is sometimes helpful if there are extended family members who aren’t very responsible.

Get the Help You Need

In order to make sure your parenting plan covers all the requirements and that it will be approved by the courts, it is a good idea to work with an attorney with experience in this area. Contact Topham Family Law to get the help you need to make a parenting plan that works for both parents, and always puts the needs of your children first!

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Written by Jaime Topham