Child custody plan
When filing for a divorce with children, the child custody plan or parenting plan is the most important part. Ideally, the custody plan is created by both parents in mutual agreement.
In 70% of the divorces with children, the mother gets the child custody.
A solid custody plan takes the stress out of the relationship between the parents and the children. In the USA a custody plan or parenting plan must be approved by the court and is legally binding.
Tips for building a child custody plan:
- Allow both parents access to medical records of the children
- Both must be empowered to decide in case of emergency
- The recreation activities of the children continue, independent from who has the custody. Changes after mutual approval
- Arrange for both of you to have access to school records, teachers, and activities
- Decide together on the education of the children
- Agree on which of you will be responsible for expenses and insurance of the children
- Include a visitation schedule. This should define the timing, frequency and duration the children will stay with the non-custodial parent. (This is a very important inclusion in a parenting plan)
- For visitation or custody transition: agree on how and where the children will be dropped off
- Determine how you inform each other about changes regarding times and places
- Include an arrangement for the children for during vacation
- Specify what happens during holidays: where do the children celebrate Christmas etc
- How to celebrate the birthdays of the children: where, will both parents be present?
- Agree on payment of travel costs of the children if one of the parents lives far away
- The obligation to keep each other up to date about your address, phone number, email address
- Prohibit the use of illegal drugs or excessive alchohol usage of both of you and of your children
- Declare that you will not fight with each other when the children are close by
- Include the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act
- The registration with the state child support division
- An agreement on what happens if one of the parents does not comply with the parenting plan
- Agree on what you will do if a conflict about parenting arises that you cannot resolve together. Like involving an aribiter, a mutual friend, a mediator
- When the parenting plan will be evaluated and / or updated
- Include wishes of your children, if applicable
Make sure that your children understand the child custody plan and that they are happy with it. Explain it to them. Explain why you do it. Explain why it is important for them and for you.
The parenting plan can be changed over time. The situation changes, the children grow up, you or your ex partner moves to a different location or you or your partner change jobs.
It is important that you parents comply with the parenting plan. Do not accept from yourself nor from your ex partner that you neglect one or more items of the child custody plan.
Once you start to accept small deviations, it becomes more and more difficult to correct your partners misbehavior. Act immediately. Make it very clear to your ex partner that you do not accept any non compliance with the child custody plan.