Parenting plans clarify co-parents’ division of time with their children and other parental responsibilities, like financial support. A good plan talks about the general schedule for the household, holidays and other special considerations that can impact custody schedules and parenting decisions.
Although the schedule may be a focal point of negotiations, it’s far from the only issue that those who are sharing custody will need to address in a parenting plan. It is equally important for parents to discuss any issues that could spark tension and ultimately make their co-parenting relationship more contentious. These are a few common sources of disagreement that may lead parents back to family court after their custody arrangements have been finalized.
1. How the children use technology
Even the most insightful parenting plan won’t be able to specifically address the next up-and-coming social media platform. Parents simply will not know what the next digital trend may be, whether it is a specific kind of app or a new device.
What they can address, however, will be common sense limitations on screen use for the children, which may need to change slightly as the children get older.
2. How the children pursue their education
Some parents disagree bitterly about whether the children should attend a public school or a private one both because of the costs involved and the kinds of socialization possible at different educational institutions. Other parents simply have grades that they expect their children to maintain if they want to participate in extracurricular activities or retain their driving privileges.
Parents may need to talk about school performance expectations and where their children will enroll when establishing their initial parenting plan.
3. How the children socialize
Will a middle-school student’s participation in intramural sports depend on their academic performance or their adherence to the family chore chart? Will the parents allow children of certain ages to attend parties or go to the movies without an adult present?
The limits parents intend to place on socialization to keep young adults safe need to be consistent if they are to be effective. Including such rules in a parenting plan makes it easier for parents to maintain and enforce the same standards.
Rather than battling over a failed test or a request to attend a party when such matters arise, it is typically more efficient for parents to have guidelines and rules in place that will help them address such challenges quickly based on their existing custody order. Taking the time to address likely future co-parenting challenges will set those who share custody up for a more successful relationship.