As a divorcing parent in Minnesota, you are encouraged to create and follow a detailed parenting plan. A Minnesota parenting plan addresses important factors that impact your children, including visitation (parenting time) and holiday schedules, education, health care, religion and more. The more detailed the plan, the better equipped you and your parenting partner will be to successfully manage future parenting disagreements. Once created, your mutual commitment to follow the parenting plan is the single most significant factor in determining whether or not you and your parenting partner will be able to problem solve independently or whether you will need third-party and/or court involvement.

As you make decisions about parenting time, it is important to remain objective and realistic. For example, if you work every weekend, it does not make sense to seek significant weekend parenting time. Similarly, if you work until 6 p.m. each evening, it may not be realistic to have the children to come to your home after school.

It is important to maintain consistency in your children’slives wherever possible, including for their extracurricular activity commitments. If your child has soccer practice every Tuesday, the parenting time schedule should accommodate that commitment. As parents you may disagree about the importance of extracurricular activities and moving forward you will need a way to manage those differences while protecting the children from conflict and allowing them a full and varies growing-up experience.

No detail is too small when planning school breaks and holidays; therefore a detailed parenting plan must specify how to share these important events. For example, you may adopt a different parenting time schedule over the summer. It is also necessary to identify start and stop times for each holiday in advance just in case you are unable to reach a mutual agreement on a particular holiday – do this greatly reduces the occurrence of future disputes about holidays and ensures your (or the children’s) holidays will not be ruined by a disagreement.  Remember, everything about parenting is changing – you are working to create a “new normal” and that is a difficult task. Not every tradition can be maintained, new traditions will eventually take shape. The important thing is that your children have meaningful holiday time with each parent.

To avoid future litigation, you should also include a provision for relocation and school placement. How will you handle these issues if one parent moves away? What restrictions and/or approvals are needed? That provision may include a requirement to attend mediation to determine how a pending relocation will be handled.