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Demystifying parenting plans and how to come to agreements

Going through a divorce when you have minor children at home is rarely easy. You and your ex will have to come to an agreement about parenting matters. If you can do this together now, you are setting the right precedent for your future parenting relationship.

As you embark on the process of creating a parenting plan, you might think that it will be quite difficult. Don't make it more challenging than it has to be. Try to keep things simple but comprehensive. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Know what to include

A parenting plan is sort of like an instruction book for the relationship between you and your ex regarding the children. You need to make sure that this plan has comprehensive information about what will happen in specific situations.

You need to include information about who is going to pay for what for the children. How will extracurricular activities be handled? Who is going to pay for school supplies and fees? How are medical expenses going to be handled? What type of reimbursement process will be in place if one parent covers shared expenses?

You also need to have a plan for visitation and parenting time. Spell out the schedule for what will happen when there aren't special events or holidays. Include changes that will be made during the holidays or school vacations.

Include information about who makes decisions for the child. Will both parents share this power for education or health care or is one parent solely responsible? What happens when there is an emergency?

Make sure you personalize plans

Don't focus on what works for other people or try to shoehorn your plan into what you think is "normal." Instead, keep an open mind and customize the plan for your child's needs. You might even find that the plan needs to change as your child gets older.

Focus on working together

You and your ex need to work together to make sure that your children can remain healthy and happy. This isn't always easy, but placing your focus on the children can help make it seem less stressful. There might be times when you don't agree with your ex or he doesn't agree with you. In these cases, putting your own feelings aside and thinking about your children's best interests might help you come up with a compromise that works for your case.

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