One of the most emotionally difficult and anxiety-inducing aspects of divorce is dividing assets. In a relatively short amount of time, two people are expected to agree on how to split up a life that perhaps took years to build. Dividing assets not only includes the house, cars, and material possessions but also any children involved which can be very difficult.
Considering that 41% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce, there have been many opportunities for the creation of parenting plans. And, like snowflakes, no two parenting plans are the same. However, when creating a plan that will be successful, there are certain things that all parents should consider.
It is not a secret that raising children is expensive. From birth, through high school, until college graduation, and beyond there is a myriad of costs to consider. When the children are young it should be determined who will pay for everyday expenses such as diapers, food, and clothing as well as who will foot the bill for childcare. As the child grows there are new costs to consider such as extra-curricular lessons, school costs, and cell phone bills.
Traditionally, many parents determine one parent who will be responsible for keeping track of these costs and ensuring that the child’s needs are provided for and another parent who will pay child support in order to help supplement the costs.
A normal parenting plan takes into consideration who will be the primary caregiver of the child and how time will be split between parents during the weekdays and weekends. However, holidays, birthdays and summer vacations should also be considered. These occasions can become a time of stress for many divorced families and have a plan in place that is agreed upon by both parties can help to reduce that stress.
Furthermore, parents should carefully consider how these plans may change as the child gets older. If a divorce occurs when the child is very small, eventually they will begin school, have extracurricular activities, make friends and develop social lives that will all make a difference in how the plan works. Parents should be prepared to periodically change their plans or to reevaluate them at certain milestones.
Parenting Styles and Discipline
Although parenting style and discipline are typically not outlined in a legal parenting plan, discussing them can help parents to have fewer disagreements and conflicts, leading to a more peaceful lifestyle for their children. Parents should discuss things such as religion, bedtimes, and dietary preferences as well as what the expectations are for communication between the two parents and if discipline will carry over from one household to another.
The list of what to consider when making a parenting plan could go on endlessly, but these three topics should make for a good start. However, what is most important to consider is the interest of the child and what works best for all parties involved. As long as you, your ex-partner, and your children are happy that is what matters most.