If you are preparing to transition from a romantic relationship with your child’s other parent to a co-parenting relationship, it is important that you think critically before committing to any specific parenting plan terms.
Your parenting plan will serve as your legally enforceable guide to how your co-parenting relationship will function. As a result, if you commit to terms that aren’t truly manageable, you’ll set yourself and your co-parent up for tension and enforcement concerns that could potentially have been prevented.
Clear, flexible expectations are key
Most of the time, it is advantageous to craft a parenting plan that features clear expectations that are flexible whenever possible and appropriate. These twin goals – clear expectations and flexibility – are often the most workable and realistic ways that co-parents can set themselves up for success.
Clear expectations allow everyone involved to plan, to understand their responsibilities and to feel empowered in the knowledge of their rights. By contrast, allowing terms to be reasonably flexible whenever possible helps to account for the fact that life is often unpredictable and rigidity rarely serves anyone well in that regard.
For example, instead of insisting that your child will always transfer between homes on Wednesdays, you can indicate that they will do so unless you and your co-parent agree to an alternative arrangement in a particular week.
Drafting workable parenting plan terms is both a science and an art. If you have questions about how to achieve this balance, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance. The stakes of your situation are high enough that seeking professional feedback may be in your best interests, especially if your child has special needs or the circumstances surrounding your co-parenting arrangement are particularly complex.