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What provisions should you include in your parenting plan?

One of the most challenging aspects of co-parenting after separation and divorce for many people is not having control over how your ex cares for your children during their time together. No two parents have identical parenting styles or rules for their children.

Some differences are fine, and kids typically learn to adjust to things being somewhat different in each home. However, if you're concerned that you and your co-parent have significantly different expectations or disciplinary practices for your kids, you can, and perhaps should, incorporate some provisions in your parenting plan regarding discipline and other parenting guidelines.

For example, you may want to stipulate that if a serious disciplinary issue occurs at one parent's home, they won't take action until the other parent has been notified and you can discuss the matter.

If your co-parent has a romantic partner, babysitter or family member who interacts with your kids, it's essential to include provisions for what they and other third parties can and can't do. For example, some parents stipulate that no one else can use physical disciplinary measures on their children.

If there's someone in your co-parent's life whom you believe is a bad influence on your kids or even potentially harmful, you can stipulate that your kids can't be left alone with that person or perhaps not even be allowed to have contact with them.

If you're concerned about your co-parent's use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products, you can seek to include a provision in the parenting plan that prohibits either parent or anyone else from consuming or having these things around when they're with the kids. If your co-parent has struggled with alcohol and/or drug abuse, you should remain vigilant about your kids' well-being when they're with them.

Parents can also use parenting plans to address issues like:

  • What accommodations and basic items each parent will have in their home when they have custody or visitation
  • What religious practices and education each parent can engage in
  • When and to what extent new significant others can be introduced to the children (for example, whether they can spend the night)

Each parenting plan is as unique as the family involved. If you have concerns regarding any of the issues discussed here or perhaps others, it's essential to discuss them with your attorney so that you can seek to incorporate them in your parenting plan.

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