Your Parenting Plan is the “master schedule” for the lives of you and your children after divorce. As a result, you should put it together carefully, making sure that it meets the unique needs of each family member.
When creating your Parenting Plan, you should discuss the following topics with your spouse:
- Parenting Schedule: What will your regular parenting schedule be? You should include details of the exchange, including a meeting place, time, and who is responsible for picking providing transportation.
- Holidays: In addition to major holidays, such as Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, you should also think about other days that are important to your family. Some holidays to consider are: Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Years’ Day, Fall Break, July 4th, Easter, and Halloween.
- Vacations: How long of a vacation can each parent take with the child? Should there be parenting time with the other parent immediately before and after the vacation? How far in advance of the vacation do the parents need to notify each other?
- Extracurricular Expenses: If the child is enrolled in extracurricular activities or sports, how will the parties pay for these activities? Is there a limit on the number of activities in which the child will be enrolled?
- Decision-Making: Who will make major decisions for the children (educational, medical, religious, and extracurricular activities). Which parent’s address will be used for purposes of school registration? Do the parties wish to have the child attend a private school, or the normally assigned public school?
- Child Support: Child support is calculated through a worksheet on the gross income of both parties, along with other additions for health insurance, work-related child care costs, and extraordinary medical expenses. Be sure to include a due date for payment of child support. You should also choose whether child support payments will be made directly between the parents, or through the Family Support Registry.
- Dispute Resolution: The Parenting Plan should outline methods by which the parents can resolve a dispute, preferably without having to go back to court. There are many tools available to parents, including the use of parenting coordinator, decision makers, mediation, and arbitration.
- Medical Expenses: How will you split medical expenses for the children? In addition, one parent should be responsible for providing health insurance for the child.
- Dependent Tax Exemption: This is usually alternated between the parties in proportion to their income. Be sure you clearly define who can take the deduction each year.
- Exchange of Financial Information: You should include a provision that the parties will exchange tax returns each year, to determine whether child support should be re-calculated.
Katelyn Ridenour, Esq
One Accord Legal, LLC