Under Texas law, parents may agree to an informal or legal parenting plan that details how their children spend time with them and how they make important decisions regarding their children. The decisions made in an informal parenting plan could be a little different from the legal order, which takes precedence. There are many basic aspects that the parents need to consider while focusing on arrangements that work best for the children.
One of the first issues to decide is which parent makes daily decisions and how the parents work together to decide on important issues. A parenting plan also needs to include details about when the children regularly visit with each parent and how the parents exchange the children. Part of this should include how important holiday and vacation times are split.
Another fundamental aspect of a parenting plan is making arrangements for the medical and financial support of the children. This includes how they split the cost of health insurance, medical expenses not covered under the policy, school supplies and extracurricular activities. If there is a possibility that one parent could move to another city or state, the parents might decide on what they will do. They should also have a contingency plan for resolving future conflicts to avoid court battles.
As long as both parents agree, they can make changes to the parenting plan as the needs of their children or situations change. However, they should decide ahead of time how these changes are made and if they are temporary or permanent.
Both unmarried and divorcing parents may create a parenting plan as part of a child custody case. To ensure that they do not miss any important issues, mediators or lawyers may be able to help parents create a plan that is tailored to their children's needs and their living circumstances.