One of the key items that you need to think about during your whether you have an attorney or going through mediation is to come up with a Divorce parenting plan. This is plan that assists you with co-parenting your child(ren) with your ex. It helps plan out and navigate the waters of all things dealing with visitation schedules, holiday plans, school vacations, etc.
A few of the areas to think about when developing your divorce plan are as follows:
There are several types of visitation schedules that parents can decide from however; I am going to through the top 5 types. If these suggestions doesn’t work for you then as always discuss with your attorney and the other parent to come to a decision on visitation schedules that is comfortable and right for your situation.
1. Every other weekend (Friday at 5pm to Sunday at 6pm)
a. Make sure that whatever drop off time you are agreeing to that you are giving the child(ren) time to digress from their visit before bedtime.
2. Every other Weekend plus 1 midweek visit (Friday after school to Sunday night before bedtime and Tuesdays (5pm to 7pm).
3. Every other extended weekend (Friday at 5pm to Monday at 8:00am (non-custodial parent would be responsible for dropping child(ren) off at school or daycare).
4. Every other Weekend plus 1 midweek overnight visit (non-custodial parent would be responsible for dropping child(ren) off at school or daycare).
5. Every other extended weekend plus 1 midweek overnight visit
My parenting plan:
We selected to do every other Extended Weekend plus 1 midweek overnight visit. The reason was because it was just easier for my ex to bring her to school and there was no need for digress time on the weekend for her when she was returned home after the weekend with her father. It was beneficial as it allowed him more time with her and less stressful arrangement for everyone involved.
Take some time and give thought to this portion of the plan. Take into consideration the holidays that are important to you and to the non-custodial parent
Major Holidays to consider: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter
Minor Holidays to consider: New Years, 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day
Special Occasions: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthdays (both child(ren) and parents)
1. Will you alternate major holidays?
2. Will the schedule remain the same?
a. Custodial parent has the child(ren) every Christmas and the non-custodial parent has the child(ren) every Christmas Eve until 6pm.
3. What is the schedule for minor holidays? Stay the same? Alternate?
My parenting plan:
We decided to alternate every other major holiday and if a minor holiday fell on our designated weekend then my daughter would stay with that parent for the minor holiday. I wish that I would fought a little harder to keep my daughter every Christmas because that is a very important holiday for me and it is my favorite holiday of the year. As she gets older she will be able to decide where she wants to be and for what holiday so I just have to hold out for that.
Most school districts have the following vacations to consider:
· Christmas vacation
· Winter Vacation
· Spring Vacation
· Summer Vacations
1. Will the schedule remain the same each year?
2. Will you alternate vacations?
3. How will you handle summer Vacations with non-custodial parent for fair and equal time
My Parenting Plan:
We decided to remain consistent. If I had my daughter for Christmas then I would keep her for Christmas Vacation and vice versa. We would alternate Winter/Spring Break and for summer vacations my ex would have her 2 nonconsecutive weeks out of the year. Those original plans had to be modified as he moved out of state for work, but since we have learned to co-parent well then it wasn’t a problem to modify the court ordered schedule on our own.
Regardless of the decision that is made in court communication will be key to a successful co-parenting relationship. There are times where situations will arise that may call for a reschedule of visitation by the non-custodial parent or travel for the custodial parent that would result in flexible for the non-custodial parent to pick up extra days. Whatever the case make sure that they are discussed ahead of time. Respect each other’s time and lives once you have separated and/or divorced.
In the end the basic factor is to be fair with the non-custodial vs. custodial parent and share time with the children as equally as possible. There are going to be some issues that will require negotiating more than others. Just remember to do what is best for the child(ren) and that you will need to learn how to co-parent in order to have an effective parenting relationship.