Most parents in the process of creating or modifying a parenting plan know that they will have to determine a residential schedule for their children. While this is obviously a very important part of the plan, there are other not-so-obvious considerations that should be considered (and potentially discussed with your lawyer) while drafting your parenting plan:
- Holidays: Okay, on first blush this might seem obvious – many holidays appear on the standard parenting plan form itself, but we don’t just mean the holidays already listed on the pattern form. The pattern form parenting plan misses holidays celebrated by many of our clients (ex. Easter, Halloween, Hanukah, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, etc.). If these, or other holidays, are important to you or your children, they should be addressed in your parenting plan.
- Special Occasions: Along the same line as number one, the pattern form parenting plan misses several oft-celebrated special occasions. It covers Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but what about your birthday and/or your child’s birthday?
- Transportation Arrangements: While this may seem like a small issue in comparison to where your children will reside, it is a decision that can affect you and your children’s lives on a daily basis. Some families choose to have a receiving parent pick the children up at the designated time, others have the other parent drop the child at the home of the receiving parent, and still others meet on neutral territory to exchange the children. Which choice works for you and your family will vary based on the specific circumstances of your family.
- Others: How should communication between the two parents be handled? What about communication between the non-residential parent and the child? Should both parents be permitted to attend special events in the child’s live regardless of where the child is residing? All these questions (and many more) may be addressed in a parenting plan’s others section. The benefits and disadvantages of doing so should be considered carefully.
This list is by no means an exhaustive list of considerations for parents making parenting plans. Instead, it is meant to encourage parents to reflect carefully on (and discuss with an attorney if necessary) the way each provision of your proposed parenting plan will affect you and your children. We at Blair & Kim would be honored to assist you in this endeavor.