Building a Post Divorce Parenting Plan
When you divorce and there are children involved, you and your ex will have formal arrangements regarding how you will raise and support them. Going from parenting intuitively together to following a legal document when it comes to your kids can feel uncomfortable and be frustrating. However, by building the right parenting plan, you can avoid unnecessary conflict and help make separate parenting functional for your family.
At First Look Family Law, Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso has extensive experience helping clients consider the different aspects of parenting plans and prepare for the future.
Wisconsin Parenting Plans in Divorce Cases
In Wisconsin, the law requires that when a parent petitions for joint or sole custody, he or she must file a parenting plan with the court. If the other parent does not file their own plan within 60 days, they will have waived their right to object.
The plan will describe details such as:
- What kind of child custody & visitation rights the parent is seeking
- Where the parent is living and intends to be for the next two years
- Information about the parent’s employment and work hours
- Proposed child care plans
- Where the child will go to school
- What doctor or health care facility will provide medical care for the child
- How the child's medical expenses will be paid
- What the child's religious commitment will be, if any
- Who will make decisions about the child's education, medical care, choice of child care providers and extracurricular activities
- How the holidays will be divided
- What the child's summer schedule will be
- Whether and how the child will be able to contact the other parent when the child has physical placement with the parent providing the parenting plan, and what electronic communication, if any, the parent is seeking
- Family & child support
Consider Future Parenting Issues
Although this seems like a comprehensive list which should cover anything which may come up with your child, there can be unforeseen problems and expenses. For instance, if your child develops a serious medical condition or has an injury, he or she could require expensive treatment and care. There could also be costs for things such as extracurricular events, camps, and college applications and preparation courses. Some less obvious issues can also be costly, such as deciding which parent will be required to pick up and drop off the children for visits. This could become a problem for the obligated parent later if the other parent were to move out of town. Without clear language in the plan, the obligated parent may end up being responsible for travel expenses for the children’s visits.
The Limits of Child Support
Wisconsin child support essentially ends when a child turns 18 or 19 and is enrolled in high school or its equivalent. Parents are not obligated to pay longer even when their child has a disability. College expenses are not part of a parent’s child support obligation either. If you believe your child is going to need additional support when they become an adult or want to ensure they have help with paying for college, you should consider negotiating these terms into your parenting plan.
Be Flexible When You Can
Even the most well-thought-out parenting plan may miss the mark on occasion. At times like this, how parents react can have a major impact on everyone involved. For instance, when it comes to sharing time, one weekend may work better for your ex or your child may have a special event which conflicts with your time together. In this situation, you could demand that your child and the other parent stick to the schedule, but it might be better to be accommodating when you are able. By showing flexibility, you can help promote a more positive relationship with your ex and reduce stress on your children.