A parenting plan is a living document. It should change as your family’s needs change.
The new year is a good time to modify your parenting plan. Take this time to look back on the previous year to see what worked and what didn’t and adjust for expected changes. You can sit down one on one with the other parent to revise your parenting plan or bring in a mediator to help you.
The following are just some of the parenting plan categories that you can revisit in the new year.
Regular custody schedule
For many kids, a new year means new extracurriculars. Figure out whether you need to adjust exchange times based on these changes.
Also, consider changes to parents’ schedules. Maybe your work schedule has changed or you’ve proved that you no longer need supervised visitation. Take into account anything that could impact your availability when revising your schedule.
Holidays and vacations
Many parents opt to swap holidays every year. Decide whether you will do the same or find another way to divide holiday time.
Look ahead to major school breaks (e.g., spring and summer) and divvy up that time for vacations. Or, you may stipulate that parents can choose when to exercise their vacation time if they give advance notice.
Reevaluate how you communicate with one another. Have your communication abilities improved or deteriorated over the past year? You might have to put restrictions on how you communicate or, if you’re communicating better, remove restrictions.
Update your child’s medical, school, extracurricular and other information in the new year. Keep your child’s information in one place to be easily accessible and changeable.
A point of contention for many parents is claiming the child on taxes. Reassess who will claim the child this year. If a parent claimed the child last year, you might allow the other to claim them this year.
Consider possible adjustments to the support amount. Does the paying parent struggle to make payments? Is it enough to cover the child’s needs? Child support adjustments typically need to get court approval.
Following your revised parenting plan in the new year
Implementing changes can be difficult. Consider using a parenting app to help you manage your parenting plan. You can always make changes throughout the year and preschedule times to meet to reassess your updated plan. If you find yourself at an impasse, consult with a mediator who can help you through it without going to court.
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