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Developing a Parenting Plan 

What are your goals for your children after separation?

Examples of possible goals:  children’s needs come first, stability, consistency, peace, involvement from both parents, love, values, predictability, cooperation between parents, change as minimal as possible, shared decisions by parents, discipline, time with parent, limits. 

A good Parenting Plan will describe how you and your co-parent will handle any of the following items that are relevant to your children.  Some of the possible items included are:

        1.  Access to Outside Information and People: 

o        Teachers, doctors, school reports, medical reports, school conferences

o        Informing the other, consulting with each other about major decisions

        2.   Medical Concerns:

o        Routine decision-making, notification, legal consent, who stays home when child is sick

o        Emergency contact numbers for school

o        Extended family arrangements

o        Method of scheduling and notice of health care appointments

o        Selection of health care professionals, tutors, doctors, therapists

        3.  Daily Schedule:  Typical week

o        Where are the children when

o        Clothing and other belongings - 2 sets or one? Who is responsible for them?

o         Transportation- pick-up and drop off arrangements

o        Others authorized or restricted from transporting the children

o        Child’s special activities (birthday parties, sleepovers)

o        Mode for changing the schedule in a particular week - for more time, if work interferes, emergencies

o         Who arranges coverage if needed

o        First option to care for children in absence of direct care by other parent

o        Telephone, email, IM contact access

o        Access to child’s sports games, recitals, performances, etc.

o        Babysitters- right of other parent to claim that time before a sitter is engaged

        4.   Holidays- Take precedence over normal schedule?

o        Birthdays – parties with Mom and Dad, separately?

o        Thanksgiving

o        Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, and Christmas Day

o         Easter

o        Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Chanukah, Passover, other Jewish holidays

o        School breaks for Winter and Spring, other School holidays- ½ days, teacher holiday

o        Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th

o        New Years, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Kwanza , other

        5.  Vacations and Travel

o        ok for one parent to take the children out of town, and for how long, amount of notice to other parent

o        Travel within US or internationally

o        Who holds passport for child

        7.  Education

o        Public school or private school

o        If private school, who pays

o        Religious education

o        selection of school or day care provider

o        Special educational needs requirements – tutoring, IEP

        6. Decision Making – Who makes and how

o        Religion- how child will be raised, specific religious attendance, or events such as Bar Mitzvah, communion.

o         Exposure to any other religion of other parent or extended family             

o        Medical treatment-when non-emergency:  joint decisions or one parent has final say 

o         Discipline – same rules in both houses, or each parent makes their own rules?  Support each other’s discipline decisions, i.e. if grounded in one house, same in other?

o         Safety –any relative the children should not be left alone with or ride in car with?

o        Extra-curricular activities

o        Same rules of discipline and chores in both houses or up to individual parent

        7.  Communication

o        Type of communication between parents - no arguing or raising voices when children present, civil and business-like as much as possible

o        Not quizzing children regarding activities of other parent

o         How- phone, in person, notes, email

o        Not using child as messenger

o        Not criticizing other parent to child or allowing the child to do so

o        Regular communication conference?

        8.   Renegotiation of parenting plan

o         Periodic review of plan, or as needed

o        Building in flexibility

o        Children’s needs change – how to deal with that

o         Parental Change of Residence- distance, restrictions, notice to other parent

o        How residence of child would/would not change if parent moves out of town

o        Any party as tie breaker if no agreement

o        Return to mediation if unable to agree

        9. Relationships in child’s life

o         Fostering relationships with other relatives, grandparents, access and visiting

o        Supporting relationship of child with opposite parent

o         Presence of new girlfriends or boyfriends with the children- overnights, daytime activities- how to intro these people to kids before and after divorce.