Solidifying custody arrangements and post-divorce parenting decisions are some of the most stressful aspects of going through a divorce. A parenting plan makes these decisions official and serves as a reference if issues arise later. While some of the situations they deal with might never even come up, having provisions in place makes things simpler to handle if they do.
Creating a carefully thought-out parenting plan is crucial when you’re going through a divorce with children. Discussing your parenting plan and goals with your lawyer can help you determine which elements you should consider including in your plan. Along with helping you develop your plan, an adept divorce lawyer from Stepp & Sullivan can help you navigate issues that arise when discussing co-parenting and custody during your divorce.
5 Elements to Include in Your Parenting Plan During a Divorce
Under Texas law, a parenting plan must include specific standard provisions, but parents can also include additional provisions as they see fit. Retaining a proficient Texas divorce lawyer can help you consider every condition that may be relevant to your case, potentially preventing future confusion and conflict.
Prohibiting Parental Badmouthing
While not many marriages end amicably, any problems former partners may have with each other should be kept to themselves. To protect your child from potential brainwashing, you can include a provision in your parenting plan about parental badmouthing. This provision could state that you and your ex agree that neither of you will take any direct or indirect actions that might distance the child from the other parent.
Having this provision will also provide parents affected by parental badmouthing with an option for legal recourse.
How Technology Use by the Children Will Be Handled
Nowadays, children are spending more time using technology unsupervised. Whether they’re playing games online or interacting with family on social media, discussing restrictions and permissions related to technology use in advance will be beneficial.
Your provision should specify the minimum age and time limit for technology usage and who is responsible for upkeep and subscriptions. Although many parents don’t think to include such a provision, doing so quickly helps reduce potential conflicts with your child and your ex.
Boundaries and Expectations for the Involvement of a New Partner
After separating, you and your ex may start building a relationship with a new partner at some point. While blended families are becoming more common, setting boundaries and expectations surrounding the role a new partner will have in your child’s life is essential. Roles and responsibilities related to care and discipline should be established as soon as possible to help prevent potential disputes from arising.
Rules Surrounding Altering Physical Appearance
When sharing custody, people tend to focus on the amount of time they get to spend with their child, and major decisions like altering appearance are overlooked. You should consider including a provision in your parenting plan stating that neither parent may significantly change their child’s appearance without the other’s prior consent.
This provision will ensure that one parent doesn’t take drastic measures regarding a young child’s appearance, like getting their ears pierced or an unconventional haircut.
Decisions Related to the School and Education
Children spend a significant amount of time in school, and parental involvement in their education can be important. In your parenting plan, decide beforehand how you and your ex will make decisions regarding how you’ll communicate with your child’s school, who else is permitted to pick the kids up from school, and how you will address extracurricular activities.
A common conflict among parents sharing custody of school-aged children is the issue of stealing time using extracurriculars. Discussing these potential issues up front can help protect your time with your child.
Discuss Your Parenting Plan’s Provisions With One of Our Texas Divorce Attorneys
Each parent’s rights and obligations are formally stated in their parenting plan. You want to ensure that your needs and your children’s needs are fulfilled while creating your parenting plan, but you also want to establish boundaries with your ex-spouse. Due to a lack of legal experience, parents going through a divorce may overlook issues that could lead to future problems that should be addressed in their parenting plan.
At Stepp & Sullivan, we have over 40 years of combined experience drafting parenting plans for numerous clients in Texas and throughout the United States. We are committed to providing you with proper legal counsel to guide you through your divorce. When you have questions about exercising your rights as a parent during your divorce, we use our resources gained from more than 40 years of combined experience to help you understand your options. Call us at (713) 336-7200 or use our contact form to arrange your consultation.