10 Things Parents Forget to Include in Their Co-Parenting Plans

When couples decide to part ways, the emotional tumult can often cloud their judgment, especially when it comes to creating an effective co-parenting plan. 

Amidst the chaos of divorce proceedings, it's not uncommon for divorcing couples to overlook some critical aspects in their co-parenting plans. This can lead to further complications down the line. 

Here are some of the most common topics people forget to include in their co-parenting plans.

1. Extra-curricular planning and transportation

Extra-curricular activities are an integral part of a child's growth and development. They provide opportunities for children to explore their interests, build social skills, and develop their talents. However, managing the logistics of these activities can be a challenge for divorced parents.

Neglecting to include extra-curricular activities and transportation in your co-parenting plan can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and unnecessary stress. It can also put an unfair burden on one parent. By clearly outlining who is responsible for which activities and how transportation will be handled, you can keep your child’s extra-curricular life thriving without disruption.

2. Social calendar planning and transportation

Similar to extra-curricular activities, children's social events such as birthday parties, playdates, and sleepovers often require planning and transportation. For divorcing couples, these events can be a source of contention if not properly addressed in the co-parenting plan.

Remember to include the planning of your child’s social calendar and transportation in your co-parenting plan This can help avoid last-minute disagreements about who should take the child to a friend's house or how to manage overlapping social events. It keeps both parents on the same page, sharing the responsibilities and reducing potential conflicts.

3. Timeshare for school holidays and vacations

Kids look forward to their school holidays and vacations. They want to relax and have fun, and they may expect to spend quality time with both parents.

Without a clear plan, deciding where the child will spend their holidays or vacations can become a source of conflict between divorced parents. This can cast a shadow over what should be a joyful time for the child. Including a timeshare plan for school holidays and vacations in the co-parenting agreement can prevent such conflicts.

4. Conflict resolution

Inevitably, disagreements will arise in co-parenting. A clear conflict resolution strategy in your plan can prevent minor disagreements from escalating into major disputes that disrupt your child’s life and well-being.

Such a plan provides a roadmap for how to handle conflicts. What conflicts are we talking about? They can range from differences in parenting styles to disagreements about holiday schedules. A well-defined conflict resolution process can promote mutual respect and understanding, reduce stress, and create a more harmonious environment for your children.

Read: Is Parallel Parenting Your Solution to High-Conflict Co-Parenting?

5. College funding plans

Higher education costs are substantial and often overlooked in co-parenting plans. Including a college funding plan can help avoid future financial disputes. It can help keep your children’s needs for their educational future secure. 

You might consider factors like contributions to a college savings account and the division of costs for tuition, room, board, books, and even study abroad programs. This helps set clear expectations and responsibilities for each parent.

6. Communication guidelines

Effective, respectful communication is the cornerstone of successful co-parenting. Including communication guidelines in your co-parenting plan can prevent misunderstandings and facilitate better coordination.

Guidelines can cover how often you communicate, the modes of communication you plan to use (email, text, calls), and topics that need prior consultation. This clarity can help maintain a consistent parenting approach and foster a positive co-parenting relationship.

7. Parenting styles and discipline

Children thrive on consistency. Divergent parenting styles and disciplinary approaches between households can be confusing and unsettling for them.

Discussing your parenting styles, including how you will discipline, promotes consistency and stability across households. This doesn't mean you have to agree on every detail, but aligning on key principles and strategies can provide a unified front, making transitions between homes smoother for your child.

8. Healthcare decisions

Healthcare decision-making is a critical aspect of parenting that can often be overlooked in co-parenting plans. These decisions range from choosing a primary care physician to making emergency medical decisions.

Having a plan for who attends doctor's appointments, who makes healthcare decisions, and how medical expenses will be split can prevent potential disputes and ensure your child's health needs are met promptly and effectively.

Read: Joint Custody and Medical Decisions

9. Relocation issues

Relocation can significantly impact a co-parenting arrangement, especially the amount of parenting time you each have. It can also affect your child's routine, school, social life, and the time they spend with each parent. By including potential relocation scenarios in the co-parenting plan, parents can avoid future conflicts. The plan can detail how much advance notice must be given before a move, how visitation schedules will adjust, and how transportation costs will be handled.

10. Introducing new partners

Introducing new partners is a sensitive issue that can bring up strong emotions. Without a clear plan, this can lead to confusion and conflict. A co-parenting plan can outline when and how new relationships should be revealed to the children. This ensures the process is handled delicately, respecting everyone's feelings and reducing the potential for conflict or discomfort for the children.

Navigating through a divorce can be complex and emotionally challenging. However, resources like those offered by Hello Divorce can provide much-needed support and guidance. We offer a comprehensive range of free downloads, like this co-parenting plan worksheet, all designed to help you organize and understand the divorce process better.

Our resources aim to make divorce less overwhelming, more understandable, and more affordable. You're not alone in this journey, and with the right resources, you can navigate this challenging time with confidence and clarity.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.