When parents go through divorce in Colorado, they must establish a parenting plan as part of their child custody agreement. More and more divorcing couples decide to share joint custody, which makes working through a parenting plan even more essential. The purpose of a parenting plan is to reduce conflict down the road over child custody issues.
To create, an effective parenting plan, you should address these six essential topics:
1. Your child’s custody schedule
You should set up a schedule for when your child will stay with your ex and when your child will stay with you. You also should establish how and where you will drop off your child for parenting time with your ex. If you are going through a high-conflict divorce, you may need to choose a neutral, safe location to exchange custody.
2. The holiday and special occasion schedule
Will your child spend Thanksgiving with you this year and then Christmas with your ex? Will you rotate your holiday schedule each year? You should outline the schedule of where your child will spend holidays and special occasions (their birthday, your birthday or school breaks) throughout this year, keeping in mind you can rotate that schedule in future years.
3. Travel and vacations
As part of your parenting plan, you want to allot time for you and your child to spend vacation time together. You’ll also want to come to an agreement about how far in advance you will inform the other about a vacation and if it’s OK to take your child out of the country for a vacation.
4. Expenses for your child
You want to address how you and your ex will split expenses related to your child. Will you both pay equally for any extra curricular activities your child participates in? Will you split the cost of summer camp or a summer nanny? Those are items you’ll need to agree on in the parenting plan.
5. Making important decisions
You need to lay out how you and your ex will come to make important decisions about your child. Where will your child go to school? Will you jointly decide that and what medical care your child will receive? What religion will you raise your child in? These are the important decisions you and your ex will discuss and decide how you will address future decisions in these areas.
6. Communicating with each other and with your child
You want to address how you and your ex will communicate with each other about your child. Will it be only by text or email? That can take tension out of the situation. You also want to set up how you will communicate with your child while he or she is spending time with your ex. Perhaps, you want to specify that you will have FaceTime calls.
Covering these essential topics in your parenting plan will help you have a roadmap of how you and your ex will handle your child custody schedule and parenting decisions. You will help reduce conflict and hopefully will help you and your ex make future decisions about your child more easily.