When you and spouse decided to divorce, you knew this decision would impact your children. Splitting time between two different households will be an adjustment: for them and for you too. If you and your spouse will be seeking joint custody of your children, one of the things you can do right away, even before the divorce is finalized, is to create a parenting plan. It will help ease the transition and address some important issues.

Among those issues are these four essentials:

The custody schedule

To give your children a solid routine, you need to be reasonable when you negotiate a shared custody schedule. You need to remember that children do better when both parents are involved in their lives, so alternating weekend time with your ex will give them that.

You and your spouse also will need to agree on a holiday schedule for the next year, as well as a vacation plan (how much time each parent will get for vacations with the children and how far in advance those need to be scheduled) and if the children will need extra time to visit out-of-state extended family.

The budget for activities and camps

If you children are school age, you and your spouse will need to agree on how to split the costs for any extracurricular activities or summer day or overnight camps. These costs can add up, so you may need to even agree if you will cap how much you will spend on these for each child.

The mode of communication

If you and your spouse are facing a more contentious divorce, you want to establish what your mode of communication will be for issues regarding your children. Many divorcing parents limit communication to emails and texts, so emotions are less likely to become heated.

How important decisions will be made

When you divorce in Florida, you can joint physical custody of your children and joint legal custody. Joint legal custody enables both parents to make decisions about their children. This includes everything from what school they will attend, what religion they will be raised in to what medical treatment they will receive.

Addressing agreements about these decisions in the parenting plan is a good idea. Also, noting in the parenting plan how future difficult decisions will be made most likely will help avoid conflict later. You may want to include language that if you and your ex come to an impasse about a decision, you’ll seek the advice of a neutral therapist or mediator.

Writing a parenting plan will take time and perhaps will lead to some heated discussions with your spouse. However, working together will help you as you learn to navigate what life will be like once you’re divorced, but still both parenting your children.