Good parenting plans try to address potential problems before they start.
Parents often overlook the importance of extracurricular activities in their children's lives when they're crafting a parenting plan. That can lead to trouble later. If you're the custodial parent, you may have a hard time negotiating with your ex about your child's schedule and the financial needs. If you're the noncustodial parent, you may resent unexpected expenses and intrusions into your time with the kids.
Here are some ideas on how to handle the problem:
Specifically include current activities
If your child is already involved in sports, dance, martial arts, computer classes or some other activity outside of the regular classroom, your parenting plan should include:
- A provision that allows your child to participate in his or her current activities (by name) even if it interferes with a parent's normal time with the child
- A statement about how both parents are responsible for staying up-to-date on the child's schedule
- An agreement that whichever parent has custody will provide transportation for the child
- An agreement regarding any unscheduled costs related to the activity, like equipment, fees and supplies
Plan for potential new activities
Your child's interests may change or grow. It's smart to be prepared:
- Include an agreement that both parents have to give permission for new activities
- Address the way that direct costs of the activity, like tuition and fees, will be handled, including what percentage will be paid by which parent
- Address the division of indirect expenses, like clothing and supplies for camps, books, housing and extra food for trips
Address conflict resolution procedures
There are almost bound to be conflicts from time to time. Consider writing into your parenting plan an agreement to seek counseling or mediation when there are conflicts. Set a minimum number of visits or attempts prior to moving toward litigation.
Having these things written into your parenting plan won't solve all your problems -- but they will reduce the odds that you'll constantly need to request post-divorce modifications in court.