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Trouble is lurking if your custody plan isn't solid

When you have a child and are setting up a custody plan, it's very important that the plan accounts for where they'll be at all times. Trouble could be lurking for parents who don't have a solid plan, because as kids get older, they could use those gaps in custody arrangements to "disappear" for hours at a time.

Another good reason to have a detailed parenting plan it to help you navigate scheduling difficulties and to make sure that both of you know where your child is or whom your child should be with.

A basic custody plan starts with determining the custodial parent each day

With a basic custody plan, you'll start by discussing who has custody each day. That creates a kind of baseline for what to expect on average days.

After this, you should talk about circumstances that may change your plan from the usual schedule, such as school vacations or holidays. You may need to consider a child's sporting events or extracurricular activities as well.

Something to consider is your child's age. As they get older, the likelihood is that they will begin becoming more independent. They may want to go away with friends or stay over at someone else's house. Your custody schedule should account for that and have enough flexibility to allow your child to grow up.

How does a detailed schedule help prevent teens from taking advantage of their parents?

Consider a situation where you have a child who is around 15 years old. They want to start hanging out with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but you'd prefer to be present when that happens in your home. You and your ex-spouse have flexibility built into your plan and have to rely on the fact that your child is older and can watch over themselves for a few hours each day while you're at work. Usually, they'd go to the other parent's home, since both homes are on the same bus route, but they've started saying they're at one place when they're really home alone.

Detailing exactly who is to watch your child when the other is working can help avoid situations like this. Detail that you want the other parent to have custody when you're not home or set up a third party to keep an eye on your child at home. As children get older, they may challenge the custody plan, which may mean that it's time to make some changes.

Custody is always difficult, but if you are detailed and specific, you can create a situation that is in everyone's best interests.

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