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Why you need a parenting plan before the divorce is final

Maybe you and your co-parent are doing a “trial separation” to spend some time apart before you decide whether to divorce. Maybe you’re going through the divorce process, but it’s taking some time, which is not uncommon.

Either way, if you’re living apart and sharing parenting responsibilities, it’s wise to put a temporary parenting plan in place until your final agreements are in place with the divorce decree.

The advantages of an interim parenting plan

Having a temporary parenting plan in place can provide some needed structure and consistency for your child. It will also minimize unnecessary confusion and conflict between you and your co-parent – another advantage for your child. Finally, your temporary or interim parenting can help you decide what works – and what doesn’t – for your family so that your final parenting plan should be easier to work out.

What to include in the plan

This plan should include the kinds of things you need to agree on as you live and parent separately until the final divorce agreements are in place. You may need to do this with multiple documents. The important thing is to have rules and expectations in place during this time. This includes:

  • How decisions will be made regarding your child’s health care, schooling and other matters
  • The parenting time schedule
  • Shared rules for your child regarding bedtime, homework and more
  • When third-party caregivers will be used and if an agreement is required on who can provide care

How your child’s expenses will be divided 

You may need to put a temporary child support order in place if one of you will be providing financial assistance to the other. You may also need to work out a temporary spousal support agreement or at least an agreement on how household costs will be divided. 

The more you can negotiate during your separation, the easier your negotiations should be on your final divorce agreements. By having sound legal guidance as you do this, you can work toward doing what’s best for you and your child.

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