A written parenting plan is most useful in setting the stage for a successful post-divorce relationship with your children’s other parent. Just the process of creating a parenting plan allows you and your ex-spouse to discuss most or all of the issues that will come up during your children’s lives. In addition, if, after you create and sign the parenting plan, the other parent continuously breaks the agreement, you will have proof that he or she originally agreed to the arrangements in writing
If you are divorcing and you have kids, the most important task ahead of you is to come to an agreement with your spouse about the future care of the children. No matter how angry you may be or how difficult your communication with your spouse is, put your children first and do everything you can to make decisions together with your spouse, rather than letting a judge or the court make them for you. This means keeping an open mind and getting whatever professional help you might need.
Factors you should consider in writing your parenting plan include:
- day to day and living arrangements
- financial issues
- medical care
- religious training
Your proposals for the children need to be realistic and carefully and fully set out. Should a dispute go to court, the court is going to take great notice of it as will a CAFCASS reporting officer.
The benefits of a care plan are to show the Court that you have really thought matters through and have realistic long term plans for your children.
Your plan should be laid out with a number of main headings. All separate issues within these headings should have their own numbered paragraph. The presentation of your parenting plan will have a tremendous impact upon how it is received by others, particularly a judge. Make sure that it free of spelling and grammatical errors, and is easy to read and understand.
Do your best to keep things factual and unemotional. Simply set out your past and current family situation and relate these to your children’s needs. You can of course express your views, expectations and plans for your children but DO NOT under any circumstances run down or make any derogatory comments about the other parent. This does not encourage a settlement and will not win you any points with a judge. It will also show that you are not able to concentrate your mind singularly on what is best for the children. Remember that his document is not about your personal problems, the reasons why your relationship broke down or your ex-partner’s inadequacies. If you feel a need to identify some specific problems within your ex-spouse, address them as concerns and not as complaints.
Keep in mind that unless there is a very definite reason why your children should not have a relationship with their other parent (i.e., abuse, mental health, criminal and /or drug history that impairs their ability to parent safely), then your parenting plan should reflect your children’s right to maintain a relationship.
Feel free to include photos of yourself, your ex-partner, your children, grandparents, your home, your pets and anything else you feel are important. You can either insert scanned photos within the text or attach them in an appendix at the end of your document