How to Create an Effective Parenting Plan that Works

Whether you’re going through a divorce or a child custody dispute, Oklahoma courts will need to have a parenting plan on file. One nice thing about our state’s court system is that the courts prefer that the parents decide as much as possible between themselves regarding the details of the plan. Of course, if an agreement can’t be made, the courts will step in and make the decisions when necessary. When working on a parenting plan, it is important to address as many potential issues as possible to help avoid conflicts or misunderstandings in the future.

Items to Include in Every Parenting Plan

Virtually every parenting plan should include information about the following items. They are not only going to directly impact the children, but they also have the biggest potential for conflicts, which is why it is necessary to make decisions about them jointly:

  • Education Decisions – Where will the children go to school?
  • Health Care Decisions – Which doctor will the children see? What vaccinations will they get? When does each parent have to notify the other parent of doctor’s visits? Who makes the final decision for medical procedures?
  • Parenting Time Division – How much time will the child spend at each parent’s house? This should include details for the school year, the summer vacation, holidays, and how to handle unexpected events.
  • Transportation Agreements – Who will drop off and pick up the kids from school? Will the person picking up the child always drive, or will it be split some other way?
  • Communication – It is best to encourage the children to have open communication with the other parent unless there is a serious reason not to. Establishing communication options like phone calls, video calls, and things like that can be very helpful.

Additional Items to Cover

In addition to the extremely common things that need to be included in a parenting plan, each parent should also come up with additional items that may be specific to their situation. If your children are active in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs, including that in the plan is a good idea. If one parent has a family tradition that the children should be involved in, this can be added into the plan as well. The more detailed this type of plan can be, the better since it will help reduce the need to make adjustments or cause conflicts in the future.

Get the Help You Need

While there are options for “self-help” or DIY parenting plans online, these are almost never a good idea. They may save a little money up-front, but the fact that they are so generic almost always means that the parents will end up in court due to some type of conflict down the road. Having an experienced Alabama family law attorney help you with your parenting plan can streamline the process and help ensure it is as effective as possible. Contact John M. Totten to learn how we can help you today.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.