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Know the essential elements of a solid parenting plan

Divorce is never easy, least of all when there are minor children to consider. Often, even when the parents do everything they can to ensure that communication is kept open and the children understand the process, there are still misunderstandings or under-negotiated issues that slip through the cracks. While it might never be possible for families to endure a divorce without some of these moments, the fact is that the transition is a lot easier when you plan ahead to ensure that there are as few of those incidents as possible. The first step to successfully managing that is the creation of a parenting plan.

Goals for your plan

In general, the point of a parenting plan is to spell out where the child will spend time and how much of it, who is responsible for certain expenses or decisions (or both), and when decisions need to be made jointly by both co-parents. In the state of Florida, that includes information about who will make decisions and bear the costs of healthcare, schooling, and other activities, as well as the methods of technology that each parent will use to communicate with the child.

There are a number of other items that many top parenting plan experts recommend, though, and there's no reason why a parenting plan should stop at the minimum elements required by law. By definition, the more detailed and well-defined the parenting plan is, the more you and your ex will find it eases negotiating the various demands of co-parenting. Here are some best practices to fold into your plan:

  • Consider bringing a child specialist in during the planning stages to provide a "child's voice" and to add depth to the discussion by asking questions and inviting both parents to deliberate.
  • Outline in detail the various areas of healthcare or school activities that the children might be involved in. Plan them separately and in detail, with appropriate notes about what kinds of decisions need to involve both parents.
  • Include information about religious observances and discipline as well.
  • During the division of holidays and other negotiations over the children's time, remember to keep the children's relationships with extended family members in mind.

Planning for the rest of your divorce

When you are getting ready for a divorce, having the right attorney is essential. This is true not only because of how a lawyer can safeguard your interests, but also because of the additional resources and advice that a well-networked divorce attorney can bring to bear on complicated matters like the custody negotiation process.

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