The Essential Elements of a Dallas Parenting Plan

One of the most difficult aspects of a Dallas divorce is determining child custody arrangements. No parent wants to have to split time with a child, which is why more often than not, child custody discussions end up turning more into a battle. Custody battles are not healthy for the children, however, and nor are they healthy for the parents. At the Clark Law Group our child custody attorneys encourage parents to sit down with one another and civilly discuss each party’s custody goals. Of course, each party will have to compromise on some issues, but a parenting plan on which both parents can agree is the best parenting plan of all.

Elements of a Fair Parenting Plan

The attorneys at the Clark Law Group encourage our clients to work towards a collaborative divorce to minimize conflict and eliminate stressors. One of the best ways to do this is to create a shared parenting plan that both parties can agree on prior to going before a judge. When creating your parenting plan, it is important to consider the following elements:

  • Scheduling: The biggest question parents have regarding custody is who gets the children on what days. You and your spouse should not just discuss weekly schedules, but also plan out holidays, school vacations, summer vacations, and special occasions, such as birthdays. If your children are involved in sports, or if you plan for them to play sports when they get older, you may want to discuss those possible schedules, as well.
  • Expenses: Though child support will satisfy much of your expense-related concerns, it may leave out extras such as extracurricular expenses or school-related expenses.
  • Decisions Related to Your Child’s Well-Being: Where will your child go to school? Who will pay for his or her healthcare? What religion will they practice? These are all things that you and your former spouse need to think about, and if possible, come to an agreement on.
  • Communication: Though not typically something that divorcing parents think about, you and your child’s other parent should give it some thought. Will you want your former spouse calling you when they need something, or would you prefer text? If you two cannot get along at all, you might consider using an app specifically designed for co-parenting, and which allows you to manage everything from activity planning to drop-off and pick-up schedules.
  • Rules: In order for co-parenting to be the most beneficial arrangement for your child, you and your former spouse should try to implement much of the same rules in each of your homes. While it is unrealistic to think that you will both have all of the same rules, major ones, such as no cursing, or no talking back, should be enforced in both homes.
  • Drop-Off and Pick-Up Arrangements: To make sure that each party does an equal amount of driving, create a fair drop-off and pick-up schedule. For instance, many individuals find that it works if the parent who is gaining custody picks-up the child from the other’s home. This eliminates any questions about who did the driving last time.
  • Parental Disputes: Even if you and your former spouse agree to everything now, it is likely that there will come a point in raising your child in which you disagree. Plan for these disagreements by listing dispute resolution tactics each of you will be willing to try when a seemingly unresolvable dispute does arise.
  • Social Media Rules: As social media becomes a more integral part of our lives, it is important that you discuss what each of you feels comfortable with in regards to your children. What types of pictures of the children do you feel comfortable being posted, if any? Should the children be allowed to have their own accounts, and if so, at what age? These are concerns that should be discussed when creating the parenting plan, as issues concerning social media are inevitable.

Reach Out to a Dallas, TX Child Custody Lawyer for Help

Child custody is never an easy topic to deal with, but if you and your former spouse can at least agree on the best way to raise your child, it will make the time that you are not with your child a little easier. Many parents are unwilling to compromise on their child-rearing beliefs, but that kind of stubborn outlook is not beneficial to the children. Children need their parents to be on the same team, even if they are no longer together. Co-parenting means working together to provide the best life for your child in each parent’s home—not just your own. To give your child the best life post-divorce, sit down with your former spouse today to discuss your goals for child custody. Review the points above, and if you have any special concerns, bring those up as well.

For help finalizing the agreement, or even if you need a third-party mediator, reach out the Clark Law Group to seek the guidance of a qualified child custody lawyer. Our team can be reached at (214) 438-1152. Call now to schedule your free consultation.

(image courtesy of Eric Rothermel)

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