One of the most important features of an effective parenting plan is that it must be created with the best interests of your children at the forefront, regardless of the parent’s preferences.
Providing a brief history of your family in a narrative to your attorney is helpful in the beginning stages of your matter, as it will help guide next steps:
-When & where you met – where you were in your careers/occupational status at the time;
-When your relationship deepened – marriage/cohabitation;
-Describe your extended family and social support network;
-Where you resided when you started your family – and any moves;
-Describe your family routine pre-separation – division of labor, activities for the children, income splitting, religious and social activities, educational preferences if any etc.;
-Discuss any special challenges that may have existed in your family (health, occupational, financial, learning disabilities, etc.);
Describe what is important to you regarding the future care/parenting of your children. Make sure that it is focused on the children’s needs and your ability to meet those needs. As indicated previously, keep in mind the court’s preference for joint custody and ensuring that children maintain relationships with both parents. You may also want to talk about discipline and how your children’s needs will change across time.
Here is where you can talk about the “nuts & bolts” of your parenting plan. This is where you lay out the logistics of how you will meet your children’s needs on a daily basis, as well as during vacation and school breaks, holidays, special occasions, etc. Keep in mind that if you want to be successful in motivating a settlement, you will need to provide more than one option regarding a parenting plan, and stay open to your spouse’s suggestions. Demonstrating the ability to be flexible while focused on the children’s best interests goes a long way in creating an amicable post-divorce life and co-parenting relationship.