Writing a successful parenting plan that works for both of you and gets approval by the court can feel like a complicated process. Yet its importance when it comes to determining child custody responsibilities cannot be overstated. In the end, the plan should help your children feel both parents are on the same page when it comes to their well-being while helping them to accept and adjust to the divorce.
Follow these six tips to write a parenting plan that shows the court you are taking the proper steps to do what’s in your child’s best interests.
Put Children First
Look at the day-to-day custody through your child’s eyes. That requires putting emotion aside and focusing on what your kids really need for stability. Verywell Family, a website that provides advice on parenting, suggests looking at their daily lives to see how it looks from their point of view. Will they be able to keep attending school and current activities? Will they miss certain events or activities? What will they gain from the custody arrangement?
Consider Mitigating or Limiting Factors
Both of you must consider any mitigating or limiting factors which might impact the placement of the children and their contact with the non-placement parent. You must also look at abuse or other behavioral issues and how they could negatively impact your kids. Sometimes, it is behavior or special needs of the children themselves that influence how the court ultimately considers when issuing the final order of parenting.
Create a Schedule
Plan to create a parenting schedule in Washington state. This schedule will show who has custody of the children on a day-to-day basis. The plan explains how much time your children will spend with of you. Remember to indicate who will have the kids on birthdays, vacations, holidays and during other events, too. Include information on how you both plan to follow the schedule, such as by using online calendar apps such as Talking Parents or Cozi.
Cover Other Needs
Decide in writing who will pay for what when it comes to expenses related to extracurricular expenses and events, such as birthdays, going to camp, entertainment, etc. Also include how you and your co-parent plan to handle big decisions, such as religious choices and events, discipline, education and health issues. Explain how you’ll work out major disagreements.
Consider a Relocation
In Washington state, your plan must include an explanation of what happens if you or your co-parent want to move with the child. For more information on Washington’s Relocation Law, visit Washington LawHelp.
Consider a Do-It-Yourself Plan
We offer a do-it-yourself Parenting Plan that was developed in 2017 as a Washington State Mandatory form. The plan is included in our Divorce Forms Kit with Children and our Legal Separation Kit, among others (click here to see all of our Family Law kits). You may prefer to hire an attorney who can help you create a parenting plan. Click here to see a list of attorneys who handle these types of cases.
This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page