Parenting agreements, you may already have one but if you don't it is something that you should definitely look into having. If you aren't familiar with what a parenting agreement is, it is basically a legal document that outlines terms for parenting with your ex.
Parenting agreements are very important because it sets out guidelines and expectations for both parents. They cover all types of things such as:
- the visitation schedule
- child support
- educational expenses
- medical expenses
- how you will split or share holidays
- transportation to and from visitation
- physical changes such as haircuts, ear piercing etc
- vacations and traveling out of state or country
- extracurricular activities
- and so much more
These guidelines help you lay out who has what responsibilities both physical and financial. They can help eliminate confusion or ambiguity when it comes to raising your child in separate households.
Important Things To Remember When Creating Your Parenting Agreement
- Don't make it personal – it is about your child. It can be hard to keep your emotions out of things like this. Especially when dealing with your ex. However, it is crucial that you remember to put together a parenting agreement that is best for your child.
- Don't use it as a way to punish your ex – your divorce or split may have been ugly. You may have been very hurt and want nothing more than to hurt him back. You can't use your child as a weapon. Remember rule number 1 and do what is in your child's best interest.
- Don't assume you are the only one who can parent your child – this one can be hard for moms because we can be very protective (*cough* controlling) when it comes to our babies. Remember that we didn't know what we were doing either until we did it. So you have to let go and believe that your ex can also do a good job parenting as well. It can be hard to see them as an equal in parenting, but they are.
- Consider the future – your child will grow up and their needs will change. Make sure you take into account things like school expenses, changes in the schedule when they are old enough, possibly college, etc. It is impossible to plan for everything, but try to think about more than just the short term issues.
There are many other things that you may need to consider in your parenting agreements. Everyone's circumstances are different. This will at least give you a starting point.
Ideally you and your ex will come to an agreement on all areas of your parenting agreements. However, some people (like my ex) are resistant to the idea and make it more difficult than it needs to be. In those cases you may have to seek out a mediator or simply fight it out in court.
And if things are REALLY bad between you and your ex and you have one of those relationships where every detail is scrutinized. I highly recommend tracking everything in some way. You can use software like CustodyXChange which gives you the ability to create your plan, keep a detailed calendar, track expenses etc. Click here for their article on parenting agreements and to check out how their software works.
But if you have the option and the chance I highly recommend trying to work out a parenting agreement that both of you are comfortable with. It will make things go a lot smoother for you AND your child.