How to create an adequate parenting plan

This article explores creating a workable parenting plan.

When Calgary couples add to their families by having children, they probably do not anticipate a time when the relationship may end. When some of those couples ultimately face separation or divorce, they may agree to set aside their personal differences in order to do what is best for their children.

The ability to work together for the sake of the children provides parents with an opportunity to create a parenting plan that allows each parent plenty of time to continue to share in the lives of their children. In addition, they can maintain a significant amount of control over how the family's life looks in the future.

Creating a roadmap for raising the children when a relationship ends

A parenting plan not only outlines who will spend time with the children on what days, but also includes other stipulations and terms as well that essentially creates a roadmap for the future. Some of the factors to consider include the following:

· The manner and extent of parental communication

· The sharing of information about the children

· Making decisions regarding religion, education and medical care, among other things

· The coordination of visits with extended family such as grandparents

· The primary residence of the children

· When visitation with each parent occurs

· Making arrangements for childcare

· Making decisions regarding the children's extra-curricular activities

· Transportation to and from school and extra-curricular activities

· The manner and extent of parent-child communication on non-visitation days

· Attending school trips

· Making vacation and travel plans for the children

· Planning for parental relocation

· Creation of "house rules" the children follow at each home

In addition, parents may want to consider providing for the resolution of any disputes or scheduling conflicts that may arise. Knowing in advance the manner in which these issues are resolved may prevent unnecessary and unwanted contention between the parents that may interfere with either party's relationship with the children.

Creating an agreement the court can approve and enforce

After taking the time and going to the effort of negotiating and documenting a parenting plan that both parents believe best serves the children and the whole family, it would be a shame for it not to meet the approval of the court. In order to ensure that it does, the plan may include a statement form affirmed by both parents indicating the following:

· Each parent understands the plan's contents

· The creation process proceeded in a fair and equitable manner

· Each parent provided the other with full disclosure

In the furtherance of these stipulations, it may be advantageous to consult with a lawyer. This provides each parent with the opportunity to have the agreement reviewed to ensure it complies with applicable laws and to understand his or her rights and responsibilities in light of the agreement. Taking this step can help erase any doubts the parents or the court may have that each of them entered into the parenting plan with a full understanding of its implications and that it serves the best interests of the children.