First of all, what is it? A parenting plan is a document, whether written by parents, a mediator, or lawyer that defines how you and your ex will share time and make decisions when it comes to your kids. The plan should include: who determines the child’s primary residence; how decisions about education, surgeries, psychiatric treatment should be made; how parents should exchange possession of their children; and the frequency that each parent spends time with their children. You may also find it helpful to include: who holds the kids’ passports, who pays for extracurricular activities, or how special holidays (Halloween, Easter, Labor Day, etc.) will be shared between the parents.
But my ex and I get along! Some parents that end their romantic relationship amicably are afraid to suggest obtaining a court order or parenting plan because it may seem like they are trying to be adversarial or take time away from the other parent. Consider a parenting plan to be your back up. A parenting plan does not force either of you to follow it at all times, as long as you are able to mutually agree on the terms of your parent-child relationship. You and your co-parent may very well continue to get along swimmingly and won’t even look at your parenting plan—and that is wonderful!—but you do not want to risk the repercussions if one day you don’t along. Without a judge-approved parenting plan, you may one day face the reality that your co-parent won’t let you see your own children. If you don’t already have an enforceable court order, you will have to go through the legal process starting at the very beginning to obtain a court-approved parenting plan. Obtaining a court order sooner rather than later saves both parents from future custody disputes, confusion, and future legal fees.