Sharing custody after a divorce isn’t easy even for couples who end their marriage relatively amicably. The more contentious the divorce and the stronger the animosity between spouses, the harder it will be for them to adjust to sharing parental responsibilities after the divorce.

Modern parenting plans, commonly created during California custody proceedings, focus not just on the details of how to split up custody but also on the relationship between the parents and the expectations for everyone in the family. The more thorough and well-thought-out your parenting plan is, the easier it will be for you and your ex to navigate the murky waters of shared parenting after divorce.

Address current and future parenting issues

The age that your children are currently at will dictate what kinds of concerns you need to specifically address in the parenting plan. If they are infants, you might need to discuss child care expenses and standards for any professional assuming responsibility for your child so that everyone feels comfortable and safe. If your children are older, you may need to split up responsibilities for sports and other extracurricular activities.

Addressing the needs of your children now and their likely needs over the next few years in your parenting plan will mean you can go longer without revisiting and changing those terms. Beyond simply addressing which parent has which responsibility, you should also outline basic rules for the family, such as curfews, limits to socialization and school performance expectations.

Parents should include rules for themselves in a parenting plan too

The whole purpose of a parenting plan is to guide the decisions you have and make it easier for you and your ex to share a positive relationship as co-parents. Inevitably, conflicts and disagreements will occur.

Including rules for proper communication and the resolution of parenting conflicts in your parenting plan will mean that you have an appropriate way to resolve any issues that flare up after your divorce. As with a custody order issued by the courts, it is possible for parents to modify their parenting plan as the needs of the family change.