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Why would I need to create a parenting plan?

A divorce may include a family court judge awarding joint or shared custody of your children. As described by Psychology Today, a parenting plan is a documented peace treaty between two ex-spouses. A clear plan may serve as a roadmap for raising children with your ex. It may become part of your divorce decree or settlement.

Texas statutes recognize that children need love and support from both parents. By writing out a plan, you may define the rules of engagement between you and your ex-spouse. To avoid future disputes, you could write out possible issues related to raising your child and how to resolve them. By referring to a parenting plan, a separated family may reduce a significant amount of post-divorce stress.

What would I consider including in a parenting plan?

In its Co-Parenting Guide, The Office of the Attorney General of Texas offers tips on creating a legal parenting plan. For a court to enforce it, both parents generally need to agree on its terms and conditions.

By discussing your child’s care, you may divide responsibilities such as when each parent may take physical custody. You may wish to create a calendar illustrating the dates when each parent may spend time with a child. Your calendar could include school days, weekends, holidays and vacations that both parents agree on.

Which child-related issues may both parents discuss?

With joint or shared legal custody, both parents may have a say in their child’s education, religion and health care. Parenting plans could also describe guidelines for discussing issues concerning a child’s activities with an ex-spouse. If you expect to make changes to a schedule, you may include rules for working out revisions.

Shared child-rearing responsibilities may progress more smoothly with a parenting plan. An agreement may include visitation schedules and how to resolve issues before conflicts have a chance to escalate.

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