happydadIf you have kids and you’re getting divorced, a Parenting Plan will become a vital part of your Separation Agreement. A good Parenting Plan is comprehensive and considers the present needs of the children as well as anticipates their future needs. Remember, if the future unfolds differently than you thought it would, agreements can be amended.

The following lists are meant to get you thinking and prepared for your Parenting Plan conversation with your ex.

Decision Making

Let’s start off with defining how decisions will be made. Key areas to consider are who will make:

  • Day to day decisions,
  • Significant decisions (such as education, health, religion, religious upbringing),
  • Emergency decisions (such as in a medical emergency)

Beyond all that, you’ll also need to consider

  • How will information about the kids be shared?
  • How will you resolve a conflict or disagreement if one arises?

Residency

Who are the kids going to live with and when? What will happen with:

  • The Regular Residency Schedule
  • Weekdays,
  • Weekends,
  • Long weekends?

For some excellent ideas on sharing residency, check out this link

How will parents share the following holidays and special occasions?

  • School spring break,
  • Easter,
  • Father’s Day,
  • Mother’s Day,
  • Summer vacation,
  • Christmas break,
  • Other Non Christian Religious Holidays,
  • Child’s birthday,
  • Parent’s birthday,
  • Traditional family holidays.

Other really important questions to consider are:

  • How will changes to the schedule be communicated?
  • Does a parent make up for missed time? And if so, how?
  • What is the involvement of extended family?
  • How will children communicate with one parent while they are in the care of the other parent?
  • Who will look after the children if a parent is not available on his/her regularly scheduled time?
  • Who are the approved caregivers?
  • What arrangements should be made if a parent wants to travel:
    • Travel with children/without children (consider providing contact information)
    • Travel outside of the country with/without the children
  • What if a parent wants to change their residence locally or move the residence of the children?

Financial

There’s no question that it takes money to raise a child. Now that you’re separated, so are your finances. For some people this may cause a lot of additional stress. Things to consider are:

  • How will extra expenses be paid for? (Medicine, seasonal clothing, school-related expenses, extra curricular activities)
  • Who holds the medical/dental insurance for the children and how will reimbursement be worked out?
  • Do parents hold life insurance and have provision for support in place should they pass away?
  • What will be the terminating event for child support be? (Child graduates high school but does not attend post secondary…child goes onto college or university…child takes a ‘gap’ year before attending post-secondary?)
  • How will cell phone plans be covered for the children and at what age will they get one? (Cell phones are a good communicating device between parent-child and considered a societal norm)
  • Who will claim the children on income tax (HST, CCB, etc). Will it be split?
  • Child support – chart amounts or more?

Last Bits

Some final things to consider that are often over-looked until they become an issue:

  • Who can attend child functions outside the home(e.g. school plays, sporting events)?
  • Do you and your ex go parent-teacher interview together or arrange separate meetings?
  • Can a parent change a child’s name?
  • What happens if one parent dies? If both parents die?
  • How are new partners introduced into the children’s lives?

Be a star when it comes to Parenting Plan preparation and give thoughtful consideration to all these things. Your action now can help avoid frustration and conflict down the road, not to mention the financial cost of having to renegotiate agreements. So, don’t wait too long to get these negotiations on the table, as tardiness can create a whole set of new challenges.

To find out more, check out our website www.allistonresolutions.com

 Tardy

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