If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, the welfare of your children in a post-divorce world is top priority.
The ability to establish a successful, workable parenting plan is among the many reasons that mediation has become so popular as a divorce option.
Preparing a parenting plan in advance of mediation takes work, but the end result will be worth your efforts. Write down your thoughts so you will not forget anything and help the mediator understand the important points in childrearing from your point of view.
Stress important points
Your parenting plan should cover many areas:
- Child custody schedule and details
- Between-homes transition plan
- Decision-making rights and responsibilities
- Routine childcare decisions, including discipline, chores and allowance
- Communication plan between parents and between parents and children
- Access to school and medical records
- Division of vacation and holiday times
- Extended family time
The parenting plan you and your soon-to-be-ex develop should be clear and contain points on which you both agree. It should serve as a guide that is easy to follow. Avoid using vague language that the reader could misconstrue. Do not forget to include details about the children’s medical care, treatment and expected costs. Remember that changes happen in life, so do not neglect to establish a schedule for reviewing the plan with an eye toward making any necessary revisions. Do not forget to include an agreement on managing future disputes about the parenting plan.
One of the reasons couples choose mediation over traditional litigation in court is that they retain control over their divorce and their future. Mediation works the same way with regard to parenting plans. A judge will always base parenting decisions on the best interests of the child. You will want the same thing and your mediator can help keep you on target as you and the other parent work together to create a successful, workable parenting plan over which you maintain control.