If you and your child’s other parent have decided to end your romantic relationship, you’ll need to take some steps to formalize your new roles as co-parents.
The court will insist that you implement a parenting plan as part of your new co-parenting arrangements. This legally-enforceable document will govern any co-parenting rights and responsibilities that you and your co-parent choose to detail within your plan or – if your legal situation turns contentious – that the court orders you to honor.
How to make a parenting plan workable
If you and your co-parent are in a position to resolve your differences without judicial intervention, you can usually set the terms of your parenting plan however you choose. You can address any issue that you want to formalize, from when your child will reside with each of you to how you’ll handle birthdays and other special events.
You’ll want to make the terms of your plan stable enough that you, your co-parent, and your child all understand what to expect from your new arrangement. Yet, you’ll also want to make most terms somewhat flexible, as life is unpredictable.
For example, instead of making a specific pick-up time legally enforceable until your child turns 18 or you modify your plan with the court, indicate that you and your co-parent will mutually agree on pickup times at the start of each school year and that any deviations must be agreed to at least 24 hours in advance unless an emergency occurs.
By setting solid expectations that are reasonably flexible, you’ll have a good chance of making your parenting plan work. If you’re unsure of how to craft this kind of language in ways that fit your family’s needs, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance.