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10 things your custody plan should include with a toddler

Life with a toddler is a whirlwind, and even more so after a divorce. As you're working on your parenting plan and custody agreement, make sure you stop to consider the unique challenges of life with your young child. The plan should be crafted to address them and make life easier all around - for you, your toddler, and your ex. Below are a few things to consider including:

  1. A holiday parenting schedule. Holidays with young kids are so important to new parents, and you want to make sure you give this time special consideration. 
  2. Car seat requirements. While law mandates these things, it can be helpful to reiterate what must be done, especially since children will be ferried back and forth between homes. 
  3. Babysitters. If your ex wants to hire a babysitter, do you have the right to also interview the candidate and deny him or her the job if you don't like the individual?
  4. Changes when school starts. It won't be long until your child goes off to Head Start or kindergarten, and it may be worth making a rough plan in advance. 
  5. Birthday plans. Like holidays, those early birthdays are special and both parents may want to be involved. The last thing you want, for example, is to find out at the last second that your ex took your child on a vacation to celebrate and now you're going to miss the day entirely. 
  6. Types of discipline that can be used. This can be a point of conflict, for instance, if one parent advocates spanking the child but the other loathes the idea and only wants to use things like time outs or grounding. 
  7. Diet restrictions. Any allergies should be discussed, of course, but parents may also want to give special attention to restrictions if they make non-necessary dietary choices - such as following a vegan diet.
  8. Bedtimes and schedules. It can be important for toddlers to have a routine, which can get broken up if both parents use different schedules. 
  9. Medical decisions, like vaccinations or types of care that are to be provided if the child becomes sick. Some decisions have to be made quickly, so parents want to get on the same page in advance. 
  10. Entertainment options. What types of movies do you both consider appropriate for your toddler to watch, for instance? Do you need to discuss things like video games and internet access as the child gets older? 

The key to all of this is to keep those lines of communication open. Talk to your spouse about everything, even though he or she will soon be your ex. Know your rights, keep your child's best interests in mind, and craft a parenting plan that will work perfectly.

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