As Pennsylvania parents divorce, one of the first things they will have to do is create a parenting plan. While this can be daunting, the parents can work together and create a plan that works well and meets many of the needs expressed by the parents and the children.
A parenting plan is used to put into practice the child custody agreement negotiated by the parents. Whether the parents are sharing custody equally or the children spend significantly more time with one parent over the other, to create a parenting plan, the parents should follow some guidelines. First, the parenting plan is about the kids, not about the parents' convenience. For this to work, parents should put themselves in their children's shoes, imagining what life is like for their children as they plan the changes that a divorce brings. They should also consider the logistics of sharing parenting time. This includes transportation issues to and from each house, school and activities, and other aspects such as child care.
In creating a parenting plan, parents should also consider their children's school and extracurricular activities, including seasonal activities. If any of the children have special needs, these will need to be considered during planning. Finally, parents should also include older children in the discussions about a parenting plan that works for all.
Parents should avoid making the parenting plan negotiations about winning or losing or about getting revenge on their ex. They should also be ready to allow the other parent to take care of their children and to respect that parenting styles might be different.
Parents might also consult a family law lawyer to guide them during the custody and parenting plan negotiations. A lawyer may explain how the law works in their state and what options the parent has during the process.