In order to create an effective parenting plan, you have to be realistic about your individual situation. Who has been primarily involved in caring for the children while you and your partner were together? How are you going to handle the logistics of the children after you and your partner separate? By that, I mean how are you going to get them to school? How are you going to pick them up from school? How is that going to look on a summer day? How is that going to look here in Colorado when we have a snowy day and roads are bad? How close are you each going to live to the children’s school? How practical is that going to be for you to be involved in that? What are your work hours like? Can you realistically get the children up, get them dressed and fed, get them to school, and make it to work on time? Can you realistically get to school or daycare after you complete work in time to pick them up?
Those are other factors to consider in terms of parenting plans. That would relate really to regular parenting time schedule. We also provide in our parenting plans for holiday and vacation parenting time schedules. Typically, we provide that the parties will alternate the major holidays because it only makes sense that if Mom has Christmas day in one year, then Dad should have Christmas Eve and then we switch in other years. Typically, dads get Father’s Day, Mom’s get Mother’s Day, and we divide up the children’s birthdays. We want to think about them though whether a particular holiday is significant to you, whether you want to have that holiday every year, whether you are in the habit of traveling for Spring break, whether you go out of town for Christmas, what does that look like. You want to think about really what is your history as a family unit and then, at separate components, what makes sense for the children, what is going to be in their best interest.
Another factor to consider is decision making. Can you and your partner make a joint decision about the children? Can you decide where they’re going to go to school? Can you decide what education or benefits, whether they need tutoring, whether they need a private school? Can you decide extracurricular activities, major ones? Do you want the children to participate in a soccer league or gymnastics or tennis lessons or things that are going to be expensive and also impact the other party’s parenting time? Can you make healthcare decisions together? Are you able to reach a consensus on that? Do you agree on religious factors? Has there been a history of you and your ex making decisions together on a cooperative basis?
That is all what the court considers in terms of decision making. Other situations to consider are, who is going to provide for health insurance for the children? How are you going to handle income tax dependency deductions for the children? Those are quite valuable to a lot of people. How are you going to handle that? What is childcare going to look like? How are going to handle communication? There are some people that have such a high conflict relationship with the other parent that they need to use a Internet-based communication tool, such as TalkingParents.com in order to communicate with the other party. The benefit of those sort of tools are that you cannot erase or alter any communications sent via TalkingParents.com. You can tell when the other person logs in or reviews the message. You can also share Google Calendars. You can share expenses that you have that you need reimbursement for. If you’re not able to communicate effectively by ordinary means, sometimes you need that extra step.