When a married couple decides to separate, it is most effective to have a plan for navigating the best options to care for any children involved. Joint custody arrangements, individual expenses, time constraints, and other social obligations can cause conflict between former spouses. Creating a Minnesota parenting plan checklist can prepare both parties for overcoming tension when considering what’s best for their children.
The skilled family law attorneys at M. Sue Wilson Law Offices have compiled a list of divorce resources to help Minnesotan parents prepare for all the obstacles that divorce may bring, so navigating them goes as smoothly as possible.
What to Include In Your Minnesota Parenting Plan Checklist
Divorced parents need to consider several vital items to reduce tension and create a stable environment for their children. Use the following checklist to help:
1. Create a Game Plan
Finalizing a few significant factors during a divorce with children can be stressful and taxing at times. That’s why it’s recommended to create a clear plan for primary custody roles, child support requests, school functions, and future events.
Even the best plans can come with unexpected obstacles. The difference is how one handles these issues as they arise. Ensuring any changes are made in writing will help to avoid conflicts. This prevents an ex-spouse from claiming that specific requirements aren’t being met and impairing plans.
2. Designate Child Custody
One of the most heart-wrenching parts of divorce is determining child custody between parents. However, the court will ultimately decide custody with the child’s best interest in mind or the parties will come to an agreement between themselves. This process involves each parent’s concerns and wishes, along with financial status, mental well-being, and stability factors.
If there are any disagreements about child custody, the court may appoint a neutral expert to evaluate both parents. Since the law favors stability in the child’s life, it’s in your best interest to work with a child custody attorney to represent the best interests of you and your children.
3. Establish Child Support
This financial contribution is given from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to cover expenses related to raising the child. Unfortunately, this can become a highly contentious aspect of divorce proceedings with intense emotions. Learn more about child support requirements and determinations here.
4. Ensure Proper Parenting Time
Along with establishing child custody, it’s essential to determine the extent of the child’s relationship with each parent to avoid repercussions and other adverse effects. If a parent abuses substances, is mentally unwell, or abusive, there might be concerns regarding child endangerment. Often, this leads to mandates that restrict visitation until the impaired party has sought treatment and met specific court-appointed requirements.
Although custody is determined by agreement or within the court, issues can still occur for numerous reasons, such as:
- Either parent not fulfilling financial support obligations
- Communication conflicts with the child while visiting one parent
- Holidays and family vacations infringing on other parents allotted time
- Custodial parent wanting to move the child out of state
Working to find an equitable visitation schedule benefits everyone, especially the child, due to the minimized conflict, dedicated communication, and added stability.
5. Try to Keep It Cohesive for the Kids
Regardless of the intricate details of managing schedules, none of this burden should fall on children’s shoulders. Regularly checking in with kids is a great way to acknowledge their feelings about living arrangements, balancing schedules, and adjusting to a two-household family. Heavy emotions can happen occasionally, but ultimately, keeping as much of this burden off children as possible should be both parents’ top priority.
6. Plan Ahead for Important Life Events
A child of divorced parents needs to balance two complete family schedules. This can include any number of planned upcoming events, like:
- Camping trips
- Family reunions
- Medical appointments
- Summer school
- Major holidays
- Religious occasions
- Extracurricular activities
As a parent, it’s important to try and prepare for and communicate these upcoming events with as much notice as possible so that there won’t be any confusion as those dates approach. Planning also helps to eliminate parental conflict and added stress.
Co-Parenting With School Schedules
Along with sharing financial obligations, parents will need to split child-rearing duties, including managing school schedules. Helping children cope with divorce is an essential part of those shared responsibilities. Co-parenting with open communication is one of the best ways to address challenging emotions, offer support, and navigate new changes to schedules.
Co-parenting can become more challenging as sleepovers, after-school activities, and parent-teacher conferences occur. To avoid hurt feelings and frustration, it’s best to tackle a busy school schedule with proper co-parenting techniques. Here are some helpful co-parenting tips:
- Maintain consistent schedules
- Clear communication about pickups, drop-offs, homework, and activities
- Keep the school up-to-date
- Utilize technology for organizing schedules
- Attend all important events together when possible
- Collaborate with school and activity expenses
- Don’t make children mediate between parents
Even though partners may choose to divorce, several different co-parenting techniques can help children cope with the process efficiently.
Work With a Trusted Family Law Attorney
Dealing with dual schedules after divorce can be challenging at times, but the rewards are monumental. Developing a parenting plan checklist is a beneficial way to avoid child custody and support conflicts. Establishing a schedule will help children feel more secure and in control of their situation. If divorced couples have any difficulties creating a flexible and fair Minnesota parenting plan checklist, it’s best to work with an experienced family law attorney to assist with the process.
This article contains general legal information and does not provide legal advice. For legal advice, please contact M. Sue Wilson Law Offices directly.