Today I am finally sharing a special project that I have been working on for a while now: a printable co-parenting planner / organizer / workbook. This planner is available for free download so I hope you will share it with anyone else you know who might benefit from it (you'll find the link to download at the end of this post).
I think most people know that going through a divorce, being a single parent, and co-parenting (to varying degrees of "co-" ness) are all difficult things to go through. I think most people also realize, if they stop and think about it for a minute, that there are naturally some added logistical challenges associated with managing a broken home. What I don't think people realize is just how much information and logistics you are expected to manage when you go through a divorce and/or share physical and/or legal custody with someone.
When I first started going through the legal divorce process, I was (and continue to be) amazed at how much information the courts, attorneys, and everyone else expected me to manage. You would think that, given the emotional state most of us are in when we go through this process, people would expect you to not be able to manage much additional information and paperwork and would help remind you, or ask you about, the minute details of the legal proceedings, paperwork, etc. Nope. I consider myself an organized person, and I have found myself scrambling to find paperwork, looking up details from agreements we made months or even years ago, on multiple occasions. If anything, people seemed surprised that I did not have this information already on-hand. Nobody ever once has given me any advice on how to keep all of this information organized- they seem to just expect that I will, and if I don't, the courts could end up making a ruling that negatively affects my children. So there is a lot riding on my ability to stay organized!
The other surprise for me has been that keeping information and paperwork organized digitally is not enough. I didn't realize that in court hearings, meetings with attorneys, and other meetings, people often either do not have internet access available and/or will not accept a digital copy of a document for use in a hearing or meeting- they want a hard copy. When I first started going through the divorce, I stored everything in a specific folder on a thumb drive that I took with me to every meeting, appointment, and hearing. I have since learned the importance of also printing out one or more hard copies and keeping them organized that way as well.
I've put together this planner for my own use, and I've also tried to create forms that I wish I had had when I was first entering and going through the initial divorce process. So there are pages that would be helpful for every stage of the divorce/co-parenting process. To get the best use out of them, I would suggest printing single-sided. That way you can change, remove, or add pages without having to replicate anything that you filled out on the other side of the page. When you print, just select the pages you need and print those. You may also want to print multiple copies of some pages if you need more room for certain information. What you need to organize and keep on hand will change over time, so having the flexibility to add and remove pages is important- keep everything in a binder of some kind rather than having it permanently bound in a way that doesn't allow you to change the inserts. I have stuck mine in the teacher/life planner that I have already, but you could of course keep this in a separate binder as well.
Here's an overview of what's included:
1. Custody schedule: year at a glance (good for mapping out alternating weekends, holidays etc)
2. Regular visitation schedule (includes 2 weeks on 1 page for those with every other week schedules)
3. Holidays/vacations/days off (space to note schedule and any agreements you need to remember)
4. Court dates (note dates, topics, and anything you need to bring or prepare in advance)
5. Important contacts (like attorneys, therapists, other related contacts)
6. Documents (keep track of what they are and where you have stored them)
7. Agreement references (keep track of where to find agreements within your divorce decree, parenting plan, or other documents so you can quickly reference as needed)
8. Expenses (use this during the divorce process to keep track of attorney and other expenses)
9. Support payments (keep track of child support, alimony, etc, either paying or receiving)
10. Reimbursements (track expenses that need reimbursement, like medical, educational, etc)
11. Goals/journal (prompts to help you set priorities for yourself and for your children, plus blank pages)
I know every situation is different, so if you have any suggestions of ways I can improve or add to this please let me know in the comments or send me an email ( caldwell.organized.chaos at gmail dot com ) and I will be happy to make those changes- I want this to be helpful to as many people as possible. If you are unsure how to use a certain part of the planner or have another question, leave a comment below or email me and I will be happy to answer them as well! Click the image below to download. I hope you find this helpful!