If you are a parent of minor children in Nebraska and you are going through a divorce, you will probably need to prepare a parenting plan. At a minimum, this document outlines the basics for the visitation schedule and other custody-related issues, but a well-considered parenting plan can also be an important document in helping a child adjust to their parent’s divorce.
What to include
A parenting plan serves several different functions. It can lay out some ground rules that may help prevent conflict later. For example, a common issue addressed in many parenting plans is when a child will meet the new partner of a parent. Things such as bedtimes and screen time might be addressed in the parenting plan as well as such big issues as medical care and religious upbringing. If the child custody agreement does not already have provisions for vacations, holidays, and birthdays, this should also be included. Parents should try to address the areas where they anticipate there could be problems while avoiding rigidity.
Dealing with conflict
Another function of the parenting plan is to outline how conflict is handled. For example, parents may agree that if there is an issue they cannot resolve, they will see a mediator. Identifying a healthy way to resolve conflict can be crucial in fostering a good co-parenting relationship.
Change over time
Parents should expect the plan to evolve and change over time as their child gets older and their needs change. For example, changes in a child’s extracurricular activities or ability to drive once they become a teenager can mean reshuffling the pickup and dropoff plans.
Divorce can be tough on both children and parents. However, even if there has been a lot of conflict during the divorce, a parenting plan can offer a way forward toward healthy co-parenting.