In South Carolina, divorcing parents of minor children are legally obligated to submit a parenting plan if either one contests custody. Each parent must create a parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval. Parents can also collaborate and make the parenting plan together, giving them more control and managing their expectations.
Negotiating a joint parenting plan is more beneficial because it lessens the potential for future conflict. You both agree on the terms and prioritize your child’s best interest, but that does not mean you should agree to everything your former spouse wants. The purpose of negotiating is to design a plan that works for all parties involved.
What to consider when negotiating a parenting plan
At a minimum, a parenting plan should include each parent’s decision-making responsibilities and parenting time schedule with the child. They could share authority over all significant aspects of the child’s life or distribute the parental responsibilities. For example, one parent can choose the kind of education the child will receive and where the child will go to school, while the other will oversee medical and dental care. However, you can address other fundamental issues when negotiating the terms of your parenting plan. Here they are:
- Similar house rules across your two homes
- A consistent routine you establish for your child in both homes
- The method of communication between parents
- The details when exchanging your child between households
- The right of either parent to first refusal when one parent’s schedule conflicts with parenting time
- A provision on conflict resolution and how you will address disputes
- Emergency protocols
- Vacation and travel specifications and conditions
You should also include all relevant holidays and how you and the other parent will split them fairly.
What is the goal of negotiating a parenting plan?
The goal of your parenting plan should be to give your child structure and stability despite having to transition between two households regularly. At the same time, it should protect your relationship with your child and your rights as their parent.