Along with parenting time, decision making is the other important part of a Parenting Plan. Here you discuss what are major decisions and what are “day-to-day” decisions, and who will be responsible for making them. In mediation you have the time to discuss not just “who” will make the decisions, but “how” they will be made. For example, if major decision making is to be shared how will that communication take place between you?
In discussing decision making I encourage parents to think about some issues that are likely to arise. I ask questions such as:
Will you share decisions about education? Does this mean that you will go to parent-teacher meetings together or take turns?
Do you agree about all health-care decisions? What about braces for a child that needs them? How will you decide which orthodontist to use? Who is going to take your child to the weekly appointments?
Have you thought about use of cell phones for your children? Are they allowed to have them? At what age? Who will pay for them?
Are your children raised with a religious faith? If yes, will you both support this?
We also talk about day to day decisions that will be made in each parent’s home about issues like bed-time, internet use, and getting homework done. By default day-to-day decisions are left to be made by the parent that has the children at the time. Discussing them ahead of time, however, can help get parents on the same page and give them the opportunity to work through their different parenting styles in mediation.
Having these discussions in mediation helps to equip you as parents to be able to communicate effectively and move forward with less conflict. Taking a little extra time to create a Parenting Plan tailored to the needs of you and your family is a great investment in your future peace.