Most newly-wed spouses never believe that they’re going to get a divorce. However, not all marriages end in “happily ever after.” If you’re in a marriage that has an expiration date like this, and you also have children, you will need to carefully plan your divorce in a way that minimizes the potential for emotional wounds, disagreements and difficulties during the process. You will also want to create a parenting plan that seeks to reduce the chances of parental disagreements later down the road.

To create the best parenting plan possible for you and your family, here are the most essential elements to include:

Which parent will be responsible for medical care?

Parents should indicate which parent will be paying for or providing medical insurance for the children. Parents should also indicate how they will share medical expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance.

Physical custody concerns

The parents need to indicate the home or homes where the children will reside. In cases of joint physical custody, the children may divide their time equally between both parents’ homes. In cases of sole physical custody, the children will live permanently in only one parent’s home.

How to conduct child visits

Nearly every noncustodial parent will have the legal right to spend quality, unsupervised time with his or her children. The parenting plan should offer clear instructions for how and when these child visitations shall be conducted.

The more care and attention you apply to your parenting agreement the better. Many parents seek out the assistance of a qualified child custody attorney to assist them in protecting their parenting rights when compiling such a document. Doing so may help you prevent conflict and improve your relationship with your co-parent in the years to come.