Jacquelyn S. Gonz, Attorney At Law Llc

Five questions to ask while developing a parenting plan

There is not one “right way” to parent after a divorce because each family requires a different approach for raising children. However, there is one way to ensure you develop the right strategy: a parenting plan.

A parenting plan is an agreement surrounding child custody and raising a child after divorce. Missouri allows the parents to develop a strategy and cater it to specific needs. But what should parents include in a parenting plan?

What to consider during planning

There are several questions you should ask yourself before establishing a parenting plan:

  1. Who has the primary role in decision-making? – You do not want to create false expectations for yourself nor your partner about who will make decisions for your child. If you're going to collaborate on every decision, establish it in your parenting plan, so everyone is on the same page.
  2. How will you communicate with your child? – Communication plays a significant role in parenting. It makes sense to designate how and when you will talk to your child in your plan, so you do not have to fight for a phone call when they are at the other parent’s home.
  3. How will you pay for your child’s education, healthcare, etc.? – It’s expensive to have a kid, and even child support does not cover most of the daily costs of keeping a child functioning. It is helpful to chat with your partner about how you will split future expenses when it comes to your kid.
  4. What will your child’s schedule look like? – A parenting plan also lays out the basic template for your child’s timetable. Where will your child spend holidays, weekends, after school and during the summer? You can make those decisions in your parenting plan.
  5. Do you need any parental guidelines? – Along with custody, a parenting plan also establishes guidelines for both parents to follow. It includes how to discipline the child, what they should eat or what time they should go to bed. These guidelines cover small details that influence your child’s growth.

It’s critical to take the time to answer these questions before making a plan official. In Missouri, you are always welcome to modify a parenting plan or child custody agreement if changes are necessary. However, discuss with the other parent before taking them to court.

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