When you’re a parent, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to your kids, even more so if you’re going through a divorce and creating a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an essential part of the divorce process; it outlines how you and your now co-parent will raise your children.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes time to develop a parenting plan. There’s a lot to consider for their well-being and agree upon with your former spouse. Our family law attorneys have over fifty years of combined legal experience and are here to help. Continue reading for 6 things that should be included in your parenting plan.
1. Physical Custody Schedule
Physical custody is perhaps one of the most significant things in a parenting plan and your child’s well-being. When divorcing and developing a parenting plan, the court will always keep your children’s well-being in mind above all else, physical custody included. When creating a parenting plan, all parties and their attorneys will work to develop a custody plan that’s best for the child.
Both Missouri and Kansas have joint physical custody and sole physical custody. Generally speaking, joint physical custody is when the child spends frequent, continuing, and meaningful time with each parent. Joint physical custody can vary from a 50/50 split to more or less depending on the family’s unique situation. Sole physical custody is when the child lives with one parent and has limited time with the other.
Your parenting plan will include the specifics of your physical custody arrangements, including a schedule for the child. This will help parents and the court understand which parent the child will be with on any given day. It’ll include holidays, birthdays, and other important occasions.
2. Legal Custody
Along with physical custody, your parenting plan will include legal custody outlines. Legal custody addresses decision-making for your child or children on issues affecting, among other things, their health, education, and general welfare. The court will often assume that both parents make decisions together and share decision-making when it comes to their children. There may be instances, however, when only one parent will have legal custody of the child.
3. How Exchanges Will Work
Once you have physical and legal custody agreed upon, it’s time to determine how exchanges will work. Information about your exchanges will help your schedule run a little smoother. Information to include about exchanges could be where the exchange will take place, the time, and who is responsible for the exchange (whether a grandparent can be there, a stepparent, etc.). Keeping exchanges consistent will help your child adjust better and help you and your former spouse co-parent successfully.
Developing a successful co-parenting relationship may take some time as you both adjust to this lifestyle change. Though you will learn how to co-parent with time, communication is key and should be included in a parenting plan. Communication about exchanges and updates about the child should be shared via daily phone calls to the other parent, video calls, text messages, and emails, or they can be kept in a shared document. Whatever the case, including how you’ll communicate with each other will help things not get lost in translation.
5. Holidays & Summer Vacation
Another important provision in a parenting plan is how the parents are going to handle holidays. While most people alternate holidays every other year, some people may share time on the holiday itself or otherwise reach an agreement that one parent has a specific holiday every year. In addition to holidays, the parties also have additional time during the child’s summer vacation from school.
6. School & Extracurriculars
When parents divorce, it’s best to keep things for the child as routine as possible, including school and extracurricular activities. Children thrive on routine and schedules, so try to stay consistent between both households for their sake. Your parenting plan will include school and extracurriculars along with their specifics: where they’ll attend school and who is responsible for private school tuition if possible, transportation for school, who may attend both school and extracurricular activities, and so on.
All of the above should be included in your parenting plan. Your family law attorney will work with you to help determine a fair plan that benefits both parents and keeps the best interest in mind for the child. Ultimately the court has the final say in a parenting plan, but it does help when parents come together and agree when it comes to these necessary decisions.
If you are going through the divorce process and are looking for a family law attorney in Kansas (in and around the Leawood area) or a family law attorney in Kansas City and the surrounding area, The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We can also help modify an existing parenting plan or help with any child custody matter.
We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through any family law matter, keeping your best interests in mind. With over fifty-four years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is a team skilled in negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, Platte County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or face-to-face via Zoom.