While we have previously cautioned that co-parenting isn’t right for everyone, under the right circumstances, it can be beneficial for all parties involved. Along with realistically assessing whether you and your spouse will be able to co-parent after your divorce, setting yourself up for success requires careful and thorough consideration of the terms to be included in your co-parenting plan.
What is a Co-Parenting Plan?
For spouses seeking to co-parent, developing a comprehensive co-parenting plan is a crucial component of the divorce process. A co-parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines the terms of custody and visitation, but also goes much further to provide detailed guidance on issues ranging from Internet access to health insurance and college savings. By agreeing on these types of issues up front (or agreeing on how you will address these issues when they arise), you can avoid unnecessary disputes, and you and your spouse can more-easily make decisions in the best interests of your children.
Issues to Address in Your Co-Parenting Plan
While every family’s needs are unique, in most cases, a comprehensive co-parenting plan will answer questions including (but not limited to) the following:
1. Which parent’s residence will serve as your children’s “home base”?
Even when children will spend substantially equal time at both parents’ homes, it will often still be beneficial to designate a “home base” for pickups, drop-offs and storing personal belongings.
2. What is your pickup and drop-off schedule?
Which parent will pick up the children from school or daycare? How will you arrange transportation on weekends? What if one of you has an obligation that interferes with your normal routine?
3. Will you impose a curfew?
Most co-parenting former spouses find it best to impose a consistent curfew. Children’s privacy, television and other privileges should generally be consistent across households as well.
4. What will you when your children need medical care?
To avoid unnecessary stress and uncertainty, you should have a plan for scheduling and attending regular doctor’s appointments, as well as for seeking emergency medical care.
5. When should your children have Internet access?
Will your children have their own phones? When will they be allowed to access the Internet and use social media? Will you place any restrictions or filters on their Internet use?
6. How will you make decisions about extracurricular activities and educational expenses?
From choosing extracurricular activities to covering the costs of tutoring, private school and college tuition, establishing parameters now will make it easier to arrive at joint decisions in the future.
7. How will you make decisions as your children get older?
What will you do when your children want to get a job, learn to drive, or get a piercing or tattoo? While you don’t necessarily need to decide now, here too, putting a plan in place can help save you from uncomfortable disagreements and potential stalemates down the line.
Speak With a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer in Confidence
This is just a small sampling of the types of issues divorcing spouses should consider when putting together a co-parenting plan. If you would like more information, we encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation. To speak with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer in confidence, please call (877) 435-6371 or inquire online today.