One of the most crucial steps in child custody cases is establishing a parenting schedule. This document gives an agreement between the parents regarding the time the children spend with each of them.

While some measure of compromise is best in divorce and custody cases, rushing to sign a parenting plan that does not work for you is only going to cause you more difficulties in the future. When deciding what to give up, the schedule with your child is not the best place to settle for “good enough.”

Setting the framework for visitation

Parenting plans differ based on several factors. First and foremost, parents must decide who will hold the primary parent designation. This parent does not have any more privileges than the other when it comes to custody. It means that this parent’s physical address is the one the district uses when placing the children in schools. The primary parent may have access to school buses that the other parent does not. This is just one element to consider when deciding on visitation logistics.

Choosing a realistic schedule

A mistake many parents make when first drafting a parenting plan is believing that they can make their current schedule fit a new one. For example, if you always work until 5 p.m., do not agree to a plan requiring you to get the children by 3 p.m. Doing this sets the stage for a contempt allegation from the other parent and may necessitate a modification.

Doing what is best for the children

The court system across the country holds fast to the belief that the best interests of the children are the most crucial element in custody decisions. The emotional and physical health and welfare of the children must take center stage in all custody and parenting plan decisions. As such, creating a schedule that forces children into uncomfortable and foreign territory, such as staying overnight before weaning, may cause far-reaching consequences for their emotional development.

Creating a reasonable and fair parenting plan agreement may take time and patience. Doing so at the onset of a proceeding often results in a far better outcome than challenging it later.