Parenting Plans: Picking the Best Schedule for Your Family

picking the best schedule for your family

Making a parenting plan can be daunting because you must come to an agreement on what is best for your children, work schedule, and other obligations.

So, how do you find the perfect balance? Read on for tips on creating a parenting plan that works for your family.

What Should You Include in a Parenting Plan?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every family is different, so you must tailor your parenting plan to meet your unique needs and reach a mutual agreement.

Here are some things to consider in your parenting plan:

Custody Arrangements

consider child custody arrangements in your parenting plan

When crafting a parenting plan that works for everyone involved, one of the most important issues is child custody arrangements. There are several options when deciding how to share custody between parents, and each option comes with its own set of pros and cons. 

Four common types of custody arrangements include the following:

  • Joint legal custody
  • Joint physical custody
  • Sole legal custody
  • Sole physical custody

Legal custody refers to the individual with decision-making power concerning the child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Joint legal custody usually involves both parents making decisions whenever possible, while sole legal custody gives full decision-making power to one parent alone.

On the other hand, physical custody determines where the child will live and who has responsibility for everyday care: feeding, bathing, daily travel, and schooling, including drop-off and pick-up.

Again, joint physical custody gives each parent roughly equal time with their child, while sole physical custody means that the child lives with only one parent at all times.

Visitation Schedule

After a divorce, a visitation schedule lays out the specific days, pick-up and drop-off times, and visit durations each parent will have time with their children. This schedule typically includes details such as travel arrangements, communication guidelines, and details about special events or holidays, which can help children adjust to a divorce

However, there are some factors you should consider when creating a visitation schedule, including each parent’s work schedule, transportation options, and childcare arrangements. Ideally, both parents should be able to reach an agreement on the terms and a mutual decision about their children’s needs. 

Holiday Schedule

When creating a holiday or special event schedule, be as specific as possible about when each parent will spend time with their kids and when drop-off and pick-up times will be concerning the special occasion. 

For example, you may want to indicate whether a child will celebrate Thanksgiving with Mom on Thursday afternoon, and then spend Christmas Eve with Dad until bedtime. You will also need to indicate any agreements you have about holiday travel. 

Additionally, you should come to a mutual agreement on how communication regarding these events should work between parents. For example, if one parent wishes to drop off gifts or send letters before the holiday or event, the other parent should be aware of this agreement. 

Communication Plans

Communication is key whether you are dealing with a contentious situation or simply trying to stay on the same page as your co-parent. At the core of every effective communication plan is coming to an agreement on what information needs to be shared and at what frequency it should occur.

One important part of any communication plan is setting up a channel and schedule for routine updates. For example, you may decide that you each need to provide regular updates on your children’s care, development, and educational progress.

Additionally, you may come to an agreement to create regular check-in calls to troubleshoot any potential issues or reconnect with one another over shared experiences. 

Finally, determining how and when you can discuss sensitive topics is important, which might involve conscious reminders about refraining from discussing financial struggles or disagreements until after the children have gone to sleep.

Conflict Resolution

At the heart of every healthy dispute is a willingness to listen and consider another person’s perspective and a commitment to finding common ground. These skills are especially crucial in parenting plans, which must balance the needs and interests of both parents and children.

While resolving conflict may seem challenging at first, several strategies can help parents form effective and lasting resolutions. One strategy is acknowledging emotions openly and learning to accept that all parties are likely to feel frustrated sometimes. Doing this allows each individual parent to be heard and understood, minimizing defensive behaviors and enabling thoughtful problem-solving efforts.

Additionally, it can be helpful to use third-party mediators or other professionals that specialize in family law and are trained in conflict resolution strategies. Through collaborative discussions and structured dispute resolution processes, these professionals often bring objectivity and impartiality to disputes that might otherwise become gridlocked or lead to unproductive conflictual behavior.

How to Get Started on a Parenting Plan

Follow these steps to get started on creating a parenting plan that works for your family:

  1. Determine your goals for your parenting plan: What do you hope to achieve by creating this document?
  2. Make a list of the topics you need to address in your parenting plan.
  3. Gather information about your children’s schedules and activities, which will help create a visitation schedule that works for everyone.
  4. Talk to your ex-partner about your goals for the parenting plan.
  5. Draft a preliminary parenting plan based on your discussions.
  6. Have a divorce lawyer or mediator review your parenting plan to ensure it is legally sound and in the best interests of your children.
  7. Make any necessary revisions to your parenting plan.
  8. Sign and date the parenting plan, and keep a copy in a safe place.

What If You Can’t Agree on a Parenting Plan?

If you and your ex-partner can’t reach an agreement on a parenting plan, there are a few things you can do. First, you can try to negotiate with each other directly or contact a professional to help resolve your differences.

If you’re still unable to reach an agreement, you may need to go to court and let a judge decide how to proceed, which is usually a last resort as it can be costly and time-consuming.

No matter what route you take, remember that the goal is to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. With this in mind, try to be flexible and compromise in your negotiations.

Create the Best Parenting Plan for Your Family Today

A Divorce Attorney can help with Creating the Best Parenting Plan for Your Family in Minnesota

Creating a parenting plan can help you avoid conflict with your ex-partner and make it easier to co-parent effectively. Overall, there is no right or wrong choice when determining a parenting plan.

When making these important decisions and reaching a mutual agreement, what matters most is considering everyone’s needs. After all, this is about creating a stable family environment where children can thrive and become happy adults someday.

Contact CJB Law today to see how we can help you create a parenting plan that is agreeable for both parties.