When going through a contentious divorce that includes child custody litigation, asserting parental rights, and determining the best interests of the child, a parenting plan is the most important part of any settlement. Whatever parents in Minnesota ultimately decide regarding legal custody, joint custody, or other child custody issues, parenting plans will reflect their desires and need careful consideration.

Unless one parent has sole custody, the parenting plan will need to clarify the time children will spend with each parent. With more families opting for equal parenting time, rather than one parent having primary custody, an every-other-week co-parenting plan is a popular choice, but it usually isn’t the best option for young children. Young children need to maintain a close relationship with both parents and will likely miss the absent parent during a week away. Midweek dinners with the other parent may seem intrusive and can lead to unnecessary conflict. A better choice is often a plan that calls for more frequent transitions and fewer days at each parent’s house.

Such plans do require more pickups and dropoffs, but they keep both parents more involved in the children’s lives and require less adjustment on the part of the children. If children spend a week with one parent, they may feel uprooted and need time to settle in and adjust when it’s time to go to the other parent’s house.

Parents who are trying to decide on a child custody agreement may benefit from the advice of a lawyer who has experience with family law. Decisions made during a divorce are often difficult and expensive to change later, so care should be taken to ensure that whatever is decided is in the best interest of everyone involved. An attorney may help parents ensure their parenting plan works for everyone.