In New Mexico, your parenting plan is a very important agreement in writing that will have a big impact on your life as a co-parent. This plan details how your child, you and your co-parent will go about your lives on a daily basis. Therefore, it is very important that you and your co-parent clearly define the basic rules for raising your child in your plan.
Beyond the basics of daily parenting, many plans also have additional terms that you and the co-parent agree to follow. Including additional provisions in your parenting plan is a sound way to cover each and every aspect of your responsibilities as parents, and these terms will also give you an outline to follow when obstacles arise. While you may think you don’t need to be specific because you are “getting along” a thorough parenting plan will help if you hit rough times or conflict in the future.
Think Before You Add
A parenting plan should be thoroughly considered, with as much collaboration between the parents as possible. It should include all you need to know as a co-parent, so its drafting is not something to be taken lightly.
At the very least, a parenting plan should:
• Define the elements of physical legal custody, along with the responsibilities each parent has in these areas
• Detail how modifications to the plan will be made in the future, as the situation may evolve and children’s needs change as they get older
• Include a basic parenting time schedule that details where your child is going to live on a regular basis
• State a clear method for how one-time changes to the parenting schedule will be handled.
Including Your Own Parenting Plan Provisions
Once the basic elements of the parenting plan are set, you and your co-parent can introduce provisions as needed. The easiest way to decide what needs to be addressed is by considering what issues are currently causing stress or sticking points in your co-parenting relationship and where you have disagreed on parenting in the past. You can also brainstorm possible scenarios that could cause problems between you and your co-parent, and then draft provisions that would apply in those scenarios.
Essentially, you can add just about any stipulation to the plan that you and your co-parent are able to agree on. If you can’t reach an agreement on a provision, you can ask the judge to make the call. Keep in mind that the court will need to approve all your plan’s provisions, even the ones you and your co-parent came up with on your own.
The precise additional provisions you’ll need to include in your parenting plan will depend on your circumstances, but there are some common ones many parents will add. A mediation clause, for example, would require you to consult with a neutral third party when you can’t come to an agreement on an issue on your own. This can help avoid frequent returns to court.
With a child who is very active, a provision that requires both parents to agree to new activities can help avoid trouble when activities may interfere with parenting time allotment. There is also a similar house rule that can help make parenting more uniform across both households. This provision requires that certain rules be the same in your home and your co-parent’s home, such as homework schedules, tech use, and bedtime.
When you place additional provisions in your parenting plan, it can help the entire family stay on the same page as you all make the shift into shared parenting. Before you draft your plan, speak with your family law attorney about ideas for provisions, as there may be some points you have to adjust and others you may have forgotten to include.