Parenting post-divorce can present many challenges, both logistically and emotionally speaking. While there will be days when two parties cannot agree on how to handle those difficulties, they can overcome most with the help of a solid, well-thought-out parenting plan.
According to Verywell Family, the best thing divorcing parents can do for themselves and their children is to be as specific with the terms of a child custody agreement as possible. From specifying the exact days each parent will have the children to accounting for time off from school to determining how schedule changes will occur, parties can avoid much of the headache often associated with co-parenting by simply drafting a strong and detailed custody agreement. What specifics should parties include, though? Women’sDivorce.com has a few ideas.
1. Holiday arrangements
Understandably, most divorcing parents want their children on all the holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays and the Fourth of July. However, it is neither fair nor healthy for one parent to get the children on every holiday every year. Ideally, a couple will come up with an alternating schedule that covers the major holidays. For example, on odd-numbered years, Mom will get the kids on Thanksgiving and Dad will get them on Christmas. On even-numbered years, the schedule will switch. The parents may agree to take the children out together for their birthdays, and common courtesy dictates that Dad gets the Children on Father’s Day while Mom gets them on Mother’s Day.
2. Summer schedule
During the school year, the children will likely spend the majority of the time with the custodial or residential parent. During the summer, however, the non-residential parent may wish to make up for lost time by requesting extended custodial rights. The agreement should outline when the extended period starts and for how long it should last.
3. Access to records
Both parents should receive access to all records associated with each child, including school, medical and dental records. However, to prevent secrecy on either parent’s part, the agreement should confirm this right, as well as grant both parties the authority to make medical emergency decisions for each child.
Relocation is a common post-divorce issue and one that often results in significant legal headache. Parents can mitigate much of that headache by including a relocation clause in the agreement. The clause should specify, first and foremost, whether parents grant each other the option to relocate. If both parents agree that relocation is an option, the agreement should further specify how they will handle custody after the move and which parent will pay for long-distance visitation-related expenses.