The state of Maryland requires that the parties in any case involving the custody of a minor child must submit a parenting plan.
If you and your spouse are facing divorce, your parenting plan acts as a guiding document as you raise your children within a new family structure.
Understanding the basics
Often referred to as a co-parenting agreement, the Maryland parenting plan is a written document that is usually part custody order and part parenting schedule. When you appear in court for your initial hearing as divorcing parents, you receive a Maryland Parenting Plan tool along with instructions.
Consider the various decisions you and the other parent will have to make in raising your children and ensuring their continuing quality of life. Your parenting plan should define either shared or individual responsibilities for making daily decisions and major decisions about things such as medical care and education.
It should also cover how you and the other parent will deal with sharing information. How will you communicate with each other about the children? Who will you list as emergency contacts in case one of you is unavailable? There are many matters to address, not the least of which is the issue of physical custody versus parenting time for the noncustodial parent.
Developing your plan
Your parenting plan can be general in nature, but the more detailed it is, the easier it will be to manage your co-parenting responsibilities without the interference of the court. While assigning day-to-day responsibilities is a good start in developing your plan, remember to include pertinent details so that there is clarity concerning who makes what decisions.
Putting together a workable parenting plan takes considerable thought, and you should always base the decisions you make on the interests of your children. There is a learning curve to co-parenting after a divorce, but the parenting plan helps to flatten that curve.