Following on from a divorce or separation, if you and your ex have had a child together, quickly laying down the law with each other is key – not just for your own sanity, but in order to help you both co-parent with each other in a way that is strong, effective and consistently prioritises the well-being of your child.
Taking the time to write up a parenting plan together might seem a little bit surreal at first, but it will actually provide you both with a fantastic, dependable and firmly positive focal point that can be used as a way of governing your actions. A parenting plan can help you both to quickly and fairly resolve disagreements, and ensure that your co-parenting (both now and into the future) practices ultimately help your child feel as happy in this new stage of life as possible.
In essence, a parenting plan is a document that two separating parents have written up and agreed upon together. This plan will cover all of the practical issues that may arise when you are acting as co-parents and outlines the key details of what can be expected from this arrangement.
The whole idea behind this is to limit any conflict – both in private discussions between you both, and any tension, bitterness or anger that could be witnessed (or sensed) by your children.
So, a plan for your co-parenting would, to put it simply, include what you and your ex need to do for your child, so that you can co-parent them in a way which keeps their best interests at the forefront of your mind. It will also provide a useful list that sets out exactly what your child should (and will) be able to depend on their parents to provide them with.
The benefits that this plan will bring to your co-parenting practices will make all of your lives (for you, your ex and your child) infinitely easier:
All in all, by helping you to improve your communication and lay down these ground rules, this plan will go great lengths towards enabling you both to lay down the foundations for strong, dependable and amicable co-parenting.
If you’re writing up a parenting plan together, it can be quite difficult to know where to start. Of course, due to the nature of what you’re both trying to agree upon, it will involve a wide range of different things to agree upon, including routine matters (like, for example, where your child will go to school) and bigger-picture things to consider.
So, below, we’ve provided a helpful list of key pointers to consider including in your parenting plan. You can alter and tweak this list, take things out and add things in, so that it exactly suits your unique co-parenting needs.
The main things that you should discuss and include in your parenting plan are to:
As we mentioned above, no two parenting plans will be the same. The idea of a co-parenting plan is a flexible one, that is designed to cover all of the key details, potential discrepancies and matters that are important to you. It will be unique, so spend some time thinking in advance – and possibly speak to your solicitor too – about what you would like your plan to include.
You and your ex can set about drawing up your parenting plan by either making time to sit together and write it out in person or, if things are still a little tense between you both, this document could be drawn up over the phone, via email or online.
If you and your ex are struggling to create a parenting plan independently, you could seek the help of a mediator. A mediator will provide an unbiased, neutral aid to govern your discussion, and help you both to create a formal, practical parenting plan that will suit you both.
There are plenty of other fantastic online resources to assist you with your parenting plan. Help and information is available from organisations such as:
Co-parenting, although it necessitates a change in your relationship, does still mean that you and your ex will have to continue to work together, even after what will have been a challenging divorce process. In order to help you both best navigate this new parenting territory, writing up a co-parenting plan together is a great way to go about establishing the key principles at the heart of your co-parenting intentions.
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