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What is a parenting plan?

Any parent can tell you that the only constant in raising a child is change. Parents need to be flexible and often have to make compromises and sacrifices in order to adjust to new or changing situations. However, making these decisions, whether they are fairly simple or enormously difficult, can seem all but inevitable if doing so protects the well-being of your child.

This is the same approach parents will want to take when it comes to developing a parenting plan. If you are getting divorced and will be sharing custody of your child with another person, you will need to have a court-approved parenting plan. Creating one can be challenging, but ultimately, having one will help to protect your child and your parental rights.

Parenting plans are basically documents that dictate what parents can and cannot do when it comes to raising a child in a shared custody arrangement. They set boundaries, establish rights and obligations and assign methods of resolving any conflicts that may arise between parents.

For example, a typical parenting plan will state when the child will be with each parent and how schedule changes can be requested. It will specify whether or not a parent will be allowed to make decisions for the child in terms of school, medical care, religion and daily activities. It will also establish what needs to be done in regard to transportation and time-sharing exchanges.

Discussing these and many other issues in parenting plans can be a very serious challenge, particularly if you do not get along with your ex. However, working together as parents instead of exes can help you prioritize and find resolutions.

Rather than approach this process as an all-or-nothing, me-versus-you situation, parents will want to try and stay focused on the well-being of the child in order to make the decisions that need to be made. Once these plans are in place, they can be powerful tools in terms of minimizing unwelcome surprises and protecting the relationship you have with your child.

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