When making arrangements after separation for the care of children, a number of aspects of care need to be considered.
Following is a checklist, which is not exhaustive, but which can be a start.
Consider how each of the following issues is addressed at present.
How is it expected that these issues will be addressed in the future?
What are the expectations of the other parent?
What behaviours / contributions will I make to support the other parent’s role?
How much time will the children spend with each parent? When, what times? How often?
How will changeover be arranged between parents?
What is each parent’s access to accommodation that will house children comfortably and safely? Consider the number of bedrooms, beds, space for belongings, recreational space.
Who will be doing the purchasing, preparation, cooking, serving and eating of meals? Are there any dietary issues? Who pays for food?
Hygiene / medical / general health
Think about the children’s bathing, cleaning and personal grooming. How will medications be administered? Who takes the children to the doctor, dentist, and other health services? Where? With what practitioners? Under what circumstances? Immunizations? Who pays health costs? (E.g. nits- who checks and cleans?)
Discuss sleeping times.
Who purchases the clothing? Who washes / irons / stores clothes? What do they need at each home? Does some clothing need to be stored at each house ? What can be afforded (brands? styles?)?
Gifts / Toys
Who buys what? Do we share? Where do we keep them? What is a reasonable amount to spend? What toys are appropriate? Are the gifts free to travel to both houses? Who “owns” the gift? The child or the giver?
Emotional / social / psychological /moral / religious development
How is positive emotional development encouraged? (E.g. affection, conversation)
How are children comforted when they are upset?
What behaviours and attitudes do we want to encourage?
What do we want to discourage?
How is discipline applied and by whom?
What religious and cultural practices do we expect? Who is responsible for overseeing them and how are they encouraged? (E.g. worship, language classes, etc)
How are friends encouraged and maintained? Who will be responsible? (E.g. buying gift and transporting for friend’s birthday party)
Expectations around smoking, drinking, boyfriends / girlfriends, etc.
How do we encourage psychological development (e.g. modelling, praise, and self-image?)
Discuss children’s allowances and chores.
Schooling / preschool. Where? Who pays? Who transports? Homework? Tutoring? Shared intellectual activities (reading, library, watching and discussing the news, etc). School camps, excursions, uniforms, books, who pays? Parent teacher meetings (together or separately?)
Child care / supervision
What are the arrangements or expectations regarding the children’s care and supervision during the day when not at school, before and after school, weekends, evenings, holidays? Who does it? Ourselves? Friends? Relatives? Professionals? (Are there any people you would not want to provide care and why?)
Standards of care / expectations: e.g. more closely and constantly for younger children
Who pays? Who transports to and from childcare?
What type of activities? How many? What times? Who transports to practice and to activity / matches/ concerts? Uniforms / costumes / balls / instruments/fees? Who pays?
Holidays / travel
Length of time holidaying with one parent
Where, what type of holiday is appropriate?
What does each parent think about travel out of the state or out of the country?
Where do both parents live in relation to the child’s school, friends, activities? How will that impact upon sharing involvement in the child’s life?
Financial support for child
Child support payments
Will additional contributions be made? Is it agreed that ‘in kind’ contributions are to be deducted from child support assessments or are they intended to be above and beyond the assessment? What costs will be met separately from child support?
Interaction with extended family
What will be the involvement of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc?