Making Shared Parenting Plans Work For Your Family

How do I make a shared parenting plan?

You can write up your own parenting plan (by yourself or with the other parent) or you can work with a lawyer or other legal professional to create one. If you don't want to pay the high cost of a lawyer, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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What is a shared parenting plan?

Shared parenting is a custody agreement between parents in which the care of the children is essentially equal between them. Since the mid-1990s, shared custody, also known as joint physical custody, has become more common in how divorced parents care for their children.

A shared parenting plan allows your children to have maximum exposure to each parent because you are involved in the day-to-day events rather than just a weekend outing. Shared custody involves you and the other parent using a schedule where the children alternate living with each parent.

When you and the other parent set out to create a shared parenting plan, remember these goals:

  • Make it detailed enough to address all parenting decisions
  • Consider each idea from the other parent and keep the conflict level low
  • Clearly define each parent's roles and responsibilities
  • Ensure that the custody schedule is clear, reliable and detailed enough to avoid confusion
  • Keep the plan realistic and flexible to accommodate real life situations
  • Agree to mediation if you cannot agree on some aspect

An example of one type of shared custody schedule is week-on/week-off, where the children live with each parent alternating weeks. Another example is a 3-day, 2-day, 2-day rotation between parents. There is no single perfect shared custody schedule, and each family must decide what works best.

What are the benefits of a shared parenting plan?

The benefits of a shared parenting plan include creating a stable environment where children can thrive, reduced misunderstandings between parents and reduced legal costs because decisions are made by parents rather than the courts.

Of primary importance is the effect that a shared parenting plan has on the children. Predictability in the parenting plan leads to a more consistent routine, as well as less stress and anxiety for children and parents.

Some of the top benefits of a shared parenting plan include:

  • Stronger relationships between children and each parent because of increased involvement
  • More balanced parenting, rather than one parent doing the day-to-day and the other parent limited to weekend "fun" visits
  • Lessened perception (by child) of "loyalty conflicts" between their parents
  • Reduced feelings (by child) of loss, rejection or abandonment
  • Increased dedication to paying child support

Because the goal of any parenting plan is to provide for the children's best interest, many families are finding that shared parenting plans meet the family's needs much better than a more traditional plan.

In many instances, shared parenting provides the best method for frequent, constant interaction with each parent and increases the overall quality of parenting. While there are some disadvantages in a shared parenting plan for very young children, overall, this type of parenting plan can suit your family's needs.

With the right resources, you and the other parent can create your own shared parenting plan. Many parents turn to custody and scheduling software, such as Custody X Change, which provides you with many parenting plan templates that you can customize to fit your own circumstances.

What are disadvantages of a shared parenting plan?

While a shared parenting plan may fit your children's needs best, it is not without its disadvantages. However, many of the disadvantages can be minimized or overcome completely when you and the other parent work together to create a detailed parenting plan that specifically addresses the problems.

Some of the most commonly noted disadvantages with a shared parenting plan include:

  • Children must move between homes more frequently, which can result in never feeling settled in.
  • Children may feel the schedule is too confusing and hard to understand, especially younger children with a less developed concept of time.
  • Children may experience varying levels of parenting styles, such as bedtime, chores or discipline.
  • Parents face greater expenses in setting up what is essentially two homes with everything the children need for long-term stays.
  • Parents usually take on parental responsibilities that were not theirs before the separation.

Addressing each of these issues in the parenting plan can help reduce the stress and anxiety that your children may encounter as you attempt to implement the plan. As you and the other parent discuss each of these issues, work out how you can reduce the disadvantages of a shared parenting plan.

Making a shared parenting plan work requires cooperation and communication between you and the other parent. Ultimately, your goal should be to provide the best and most stable care for your children's physical and psychological development.

Many divorced couples manage to put their children's needs first and create parenting plans that work. Custody X Change software allows you to create a parenting plan and schedule with the other parent and can be modified repeatedly until you find a balance that works for you.

What should my shared parenting plan cover?

Your shared parenting plan should cover everything related to parenting your child, which requires plenty of foresight and lots of details.

Because you are splitting the duties of parenting between two people who live in separate residences, you must include instructions for as many scenarios as you can. Custody X Change software provides plenty of information that you and the other parent can draw on when creating a parenting plan for shared custody.

Here are 10 areas you should address in your shared parenting plan:

  1. Child's and parents' living arrangements
  2. Visitation schedule that promotes the child's best interests and needs
  3. Child care arrangements (which can be marked as third-party time) and each parent's right of first refusal
  4. Holiday and vacation time with each parent
  5. Child's educational needs and goals, from transportation to homework help
  6. Contact procedures with each parent when the child is with the other parent
  7. Exposure to certain third-party members, such as with relatives or parental dating partners
  8. Medical care for each child
  9. How and when changes to the parenting plan should take place
  10. Enforcement procedures, should either parent violate the custody agreement

In addition to these standard topics, your shared parenting plan should include any topics that apply to your unique circumstances.

How can I make my shared parenting plan successful?

You'll see more success with your shared parenting plan when you and the other parent choose to put aside your differences and work together for the benefit of your children. Divorce involves a lot of hurt and pain, making it hard to interact sometimes. Even though you are no longer a couple, you and your ex are still parents.

Children thrive when they have two parents who are involved in their lives and care for their needs, regardless of whether the parents are together or not. For your shared parenting plan to be successful, you must practice effective communication and commitment to your children's welfare.

Here are 5 tips that you and the other parent can employ to ensure your shared parenting plan is successful:

  1. Communicate as you would with a business partner, keeping it civil, unemotional and level headed.
  2. Constantly ask yourselves if the decisions you are making are best for the children, especially if you don't agree with each other.
  3. Learn about childhood developmental stages and what is necessary for healthy development, then tailor your parenting plan to enhance growth.
  4. Support each other as parents, avoid undermining the other parent's decisions and avoid negativity, especially in front of your children.
  5. Stick to the custody schedule as outlined, without being late to pick-ups or drop-offs and be flexible as unusual situations arise.

Shared parenting plans work best when parents can put aside conflict and work together for the best interests of their children. Ongoing conflict tends to cause everything from schedules to inter-family relations to deteriorate. You can use Custody X Change software to draw up a detailed shared parenting plan that helps you work out a successful post-divorce relationship.

What if we can't agree on aspects of the shared parenting plan?

When you attempt to make a shared parenting plan, you and the other parent will likely encounter areas where you don't agree, so decide in advance on a way to settle them.

Once the parenting plan is in place, disagreements will still arise from time to time. When you have a process for mediation in place, it can reduce the conflict level significantly.

When you have disagreements when creating the shared parenting plan, a third party can often advise you on what to do. This can be a family services mediator, a lawyer or a judge in family court. If you can resolve the disagreement out of court, you can save on legal fees.

Write up everything you agree on concerning the parenting plan, then take that plus all your disagreements to the third party at one time. You can use Custody X Change software to draw up a shared parenting plan, print it out, and present what you've already worked out to the third party.

Disagreements between parents can be harmful to your children and escalate tension between you and the other parent. By deciding on the proper way to settle disagreements before they happen, you have a calm and impersonal route to take when they do come up.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

Creating a parenting plan on your own can feel overwhelming. You have to be sure to use airtight legal language and can't omit any required information.

Use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating a comprehensive parenting plan.

The result is a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent and secures your child's future.

The easiest and most reliable way to make a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

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