As the new year rolls around, it’s time for co-parents to review and refresh their parenting plans. Why? A parenting plan, essentially a roadmap for raising children post-divorce or separation, benefits greatly from regular assessments and updates and the start of each new year is a great time to engage in these efforts.
The practice of reviewing one’s parenting plan each new year helps to ensure that the plan remains relevant and effective in meeting the evolving needs of both the children and the parents that it affects.
Conducting your review
If you co-parent subject to the terms of a parenting plan, you can begin the process of reviewing that plan by reflecting on the past year. Consider what aspects of your current co-parenting arrangements worked well and what didn’t. Think about any significant changes in your children’s lives, such as age, schooling, activities or social developments. This reflection can help identify areas that need (or may simply benefit from) adjustment.
Additionally, you’ll want to evaluate how communication and collaboration between you and your co-parent have evolved over the past year. Effective communication is crucial in co-parenting. Identify any communication gaps or conflicts and consider ways to improve them. Tools like co-parenting apps can facilitate smoother communication, for example.
Review the logistics of your parenting plan. Are the pick-up and drop-off arrangements still practical? Do the holiday schedules need tweaking to better suit your current situations? It’s important that the plan fits realistically with both parents’ schedules and commitments.
Finally, anticipate and plan for any foreseeable changes in the coming year. This could include one parent relocating, changes in employment or children starting a new school. Proactively adjusting the parenting plan for these changes can prevent future conflicts.
Once you’ve agreed on the adjustments, formalize them. Depending on your arrangement, this might require legal modifications or simply updating your written plan. Either way, if you don’t formalize these changes – usually by seeking legal guidance and submitting adjustments to the court – you may be in danger of being held accountable for a failure to honor the terms as they currently stand.