Parenting Plans for School Age Children
Things to consider when putting together a parenting plan for children who are in school. Includes guidelines, tips, and tools.
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional to create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
Parenting plans for school age children are legally required in many states, but it's always a wise idea to compose such a document even if it is not mandatory. A good parenting plan records how you and the other parent will raise your school age children.
When you have a cohesive set of guidelines that outline everything from your children's schedules to what happens when they are sick, you are less likely to have conflicts with the other parent. Decisions on important events are resolved in your parenting plan, so you, your children, and the other parent all know what to expect.
There is no one-size-fits-all parenting plan, because children have different needs at different stages of life. You and the other parent should plan on revisiting your parenting plan agreement often to update the language and conditions to reflect everyone's circumstances.
Custody X Change software offers parenting plan templates that help you and the other parent draft that first parenting plan. Then, as you need to revise, Custody X Change software makes changes to the plan easily.
When you are designing a parenting plan for school age children, the best approach blends structure and flexibility to meet your children's needs. School age children have busy lives with many relationships outside of their parents. Help them with healthy development by balancing their time with family and friends while developing talents and hobbies.
School age children can make many decisions for themselves, such as what to wear, who their friends are and what after-school classes they want to try. Your parenting plan should recognize their growing independence and can therefore be more flexible than a plan designed for younger children.
Children who are school age are usually able to manage their emotions better than younger children. They adapt to change more readily than younger children and don't resist transitions quite as much. They are more flexible with the idea of two parents in separate residences, and most can adjust to two parenting styles fairly easily.
Your child's current circumstances should be the center of your efforts to create a workable parenting plan. While many things in your school age children's life will be changing, try to keep as many things the same as you can. For example, if your child took gymnastics lessons before your divorce, make arrangements for the child to continue and build that into your parenting plan.
Some of the existing circumstances to examine when creating a parenting plan for school age children include:
- Each parent's responsibilities prior to separation
- Distance between residences
- Each parent's work schedule
- Any existing after school care
- Current school schedule
- Activities after school or on weekends
- Individual temperament and personality
- Current medical or special needs
- Child's relationship with both parents
- Previous and current conflict level between parents
Custody X Change software helps separated parents customize a parenting plan that encompasses even the most unique situations to create a workable, effective agreement that puts your children's needs first.
Include information on as many aspects of parenting your child as you can, including details on visitation, third-party care, transportation, chores and health and wellness. Regardless of how you create your parenting plan, it should be clear, easy to understand and predictable.
Here are the top 10 things your parenting plan for school age children should cover.
- Weekly schedules of where the children will reside
- How and where exchanges will take place
- Schedules for special events like birthdays or family reunions
- All vacations and holiday schedules, including exchange times
- Establish any right of first refusal guidelines
- Basic parenting ground rules, such as discipline and chores
- Medical care issues, such as choosing doctors and insurance
- Out of pocket expenses beyond child support, such as school fees
- New relationship guidelines for parents when children are present
- Steps to resolve future disagreements, such as mediation
These critical topics are good place for you and the other parent to start talking about the ways you will continue to parent your school age children even though you are no longer together. When creating a parenting plan it is often helpful to use a parenting plan template such as those provided by Custody X Change. They are easy to customize to suit your personal situation.
The best visitation schedules in a parenting plan for school age children are predictable, clear and conflict-free. Depending on the distance between the parents, visitations can be tailored to be more even than perhaps those for toddlers or preschoolers. Evaluate your child's age, maturity and unique needs when creating the visitation portion of your parenting plan.
There are several advantages when creating schedules for school age children over younger children:
Comprehend time. In elementary school, children are able to understand concepts about time, including days of the week. This helps during exchanges because children can better comprehend what it means to spend time with both parents.
Longer visits. Children can stay at each place a little longer than when they were younger. In your parenting plan, try to limit the transitions between households as much as possible so children can settle into each location without too much upheaval at each visit. Children may do better with a few days at a time at each parent's home, rather than every other day or two.
Give input. School age children can express personal opinions and provide some input when it comes to visitations. To get an idea of what your children may tolerate best, solicit their input when working out a visitation schedule to include in your parenting plan for school age children.
Understand visuals. Using a calendar with clear indications often helps school age children understand what is coming up in the week and anticipate exchanges, minimizing stress. Custody X Change software features a printable visual calendar that uses color coding to outline time with each parent.
Rather than paying an attorney to prepare a parenting plan that fits your school age children's needs, you and the other parent can reduce your legal costs when you work out many of the details in advance.
When you create your parenting plan for school age children, you and the other parent can negotiate, evaluate and agree to what your parenting plan will look like on your own time.
For example, you can work out a basic holiday visitation schedule or decide who will be responsible for picking the children up from school. Then, you can utilize your attorneys for the things you either can't agree on or are unsure about.
Once your detailed parenting plan for school age children is in effect, it can help you stay out of court with the other parent to negotiate misunderstandings or disagreements. A clear, easy-to-follow plan allows parents and children to know what to expect when situations arise. This may lessen the probability that you'll end up in court to resolve them.
Always consult with your attorney before entering a final agreement on a parenting plan.