The following is a #ParentingPlan Checklist, I give this to clients to help them understand the many and varied issues that need to be discussed and agreed too, when negotiating access arrangements and how they will parent as a non-intact family.
Child’s Best Interests:
How can we ensure that this parenting plan is in our child’s best interest?
Equal Shared Parental Responsibility:
Is equal shared parental responsibility appropriate in our circumstances?
- Is it in the best interests of our child and reasonably practicable for our child to spend equal time with both parents?
- Is it in the best interests of our child and reasonably practicable for our child to spend substantial or significant time with each parent?
- Who else will live with our child?
- What accommodation is available for our child?
- How structured and/or flexible should these arrangements be?
- How will we make considerations for the age of our child?
- If changes are needed then how much notice is required?
- What about the times and places and methods for pick-ups and drop offs?
- How will our child maintain communication with each of us when s/he is with the other parent? e.g. by telephone email etc.
- When will this agreement start?
- When will it be reviewed?
What arrangements do we make for the children’s special days, birthdays and family events?
Other Family Members:
- How will our children maintain contact with significant others and members of their extended family (such as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins)?
- How will they maintain those relationships?
- What will be the likely effect on our children of any separation from a grandparent with whom they have a relationship?
- How can we facilitate and maintain our children’s continued involvement in their sporting and other activities?
- How will the children move between our houses and their various activities?
- What are our children’s present and future educational needs?
- What type of school do we want them to attend?
- How much will each of us be involved in school activities?
- What are the arrangements for each parent to have contact with the school?
Resourcing the Children:
- How will the cost of supporting our children be shared?
- On what basis will we decide these costs?
- Will the Child Support Agency assessment be taken into account?
- How and when will payment be made?
- How will miscellaneous education costs be met?
- How will health care costs be met?
- Who will fund extracurricular actives/ how will they be decided?
- How, when and by whom, will our children be fed on days when they move between our houses?
- Will any of our children’s clothes or belongings be shared between households?
- Will we share responsibility for the washing of clothes?
- Will we share in the purchase of presents?
- Can we agree on bed times and homework requirements?
- Do we have agreed Social Media boundaries
- At what point do the children become responsible for organising their own social lives and access co-ordination?
- Do we need to consider having this agreement formalised into Consent Orders?
Every families needs are different so every Parenting Plan is uniquely their own. This list helps parents to think about the practicalities of shared access.