Planning for the New Year – how a parenting plan can help separated parents
As the New Year approaches, many newly separated parents worry what the year will bring, and how they will cope with making childcare arrangements with their ex-partner.
Separated parents who have previously had the support of a partner may imagine that going forward, everyday decisions will become a bitter battle and what used to be simple will become drawn-out and complicated.
A great and effective way of preparing for the New Year is to create a parenting plan.
A parenting plan is a written document that details how you and the other parent intend on sharing childcare duties and responsibilities going forward. The plan can include everything from where children spend the nights on weekends to who the kids spend Christmas day with.
Finances can also be ironed-out in a parenting plan, as Brighton-based collaborative solicitor and family mediator Jo O’Sullivan explains: ‘[A parenting plan] can include financial questions. They can be helpful in outlining the responsibilities of each parent.’
While the parenting plan can be tailored to suit the child’s current needs and requirements, it’s important that they remain flexible.
‘Parenting plans are not just for now,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘Things change, and people find it very difficult to re-visit parenting plans. They may worry about that but it’s perfectly normal to go back and look at the plan and decide whether the plan is still working for the children and for the parents.’
It’s also worth including your children in the process. In their guide to parenting plans, Cafcass says ‘Let your children have a say. Research shows it can be beneficial for everyone if they are given safe opportunities, free from loyalty issues, to express how things are for them. This is very different from asking children to make decisions. It is important to listen to your children.’
To get started with your parenting plan, sign up to our FREE online service Splitting Up? Put Kids First. There you can create an online parenting plan and learn more about effective co-parenting.
Read more about using a weekly parenting plan.