It can easily be months between the time a couple separates and when their divorce is finalized. It can be even longer if they remain separated for some time before they make a decision about permanently ending the marriage.
For a child, that can seem like a lifetime. That’s why it’s wise to put a parenting plan in place even if you don’t know when or if you will be officially divorced. This can help co-parenting across two homes go more smoothly for both of you and – more importantly – give your child some structure and consistency.
It can also help you determine what does and doesn’t work so that your official custody agreement and parenting plan will better reflect what works for your family.
What should be included in a separation parenting plan?
This plan should include the kinds of things you’ll be eventually codifying in your custody agreement. The following are some of the provisions you’ll want to include:
- The schedule detailing when your child will be with each of you
- Who will make various decisions regarding your child (like medical care and school matters)
- How to two of you will communicate regarding your child (for example, phone, text and shared parenting app)
- Basic rules for your child regarding homework, bedtime, screen time and more
- How the need for third-party caregivers will be handled
- How child expenses will be divided
It may be necessary to get an official child support order if one parent needs to provide the other one with regular payments to care for the child, maintain the home and deal with other living expenses.
If the two of you can work amicably to co-parent your child during this time, there may be no need to get a court involved with any kind of agreement you make. However, it’s still wise to have legal guidance as you create a separation parenting plan. This can help you more easily transition to a more formal one if and when you finalize your divorce.