When parents separate, creating a parenting plan is a necessary part of the divorce process. The parenting plan works out issues like where children will live and how much parenting time each parent will receive, but can also be used to iron out a wide variety of issues. By creating a comprehensive parenting plan during the divorce process, separating parents can avoid many fights, both legal and otherwise, over issues which were already decided.
What Should A Parenting Plan Include?
When creating a parenting plan, separating partners should take care to be as thorough as possible. In addition to deciding who has primary physical custody of a child as well as visitation, the parenting plan can be used to make many other decisions which may affect the health and welfare of the child.
For example, the parenting plan can be used to determine how much each parent will contribute financially to the children, including child support. The plan can also determine which holidays the children spend with each parent, and arrange for how the children will be transported or exchanged between the parents.
In addition, the plan can be used to determine where the children should attend school, who will have access to their medical records, where they will be treated if they are injured or need surgery, and which parent’s health insurance will cover the kids. In addition, the plan can make an agreement which covers the children attending school functions, overnight visits with friends or other family, how much contact each child will have with grandparents and other relatives, and the terms or conditions for a parent who wishes to relocate with or without the children.
The parenting plan can be tailored to fit each family’s specific needs and circumstances. Nearly every important issue can be addressed before the plan is approved by a judge, and the parents can also plan ahead of time about how they will settle any future disputes over the plan; for example, the parents could agree to go to mediation or arbitration rather than court.
What To Avoid in a Parenting Plan
It is impossible to plan for every possible circumstance or event which occurs over the next decade or two. For that reason, parenting plans which are too specific, too rigid, or too inflexible may not stand the test of time. Unless parents have a specific plan to settle disputes quickly and efficiently, it can be expensive and time consuming to litigate every small matter in court. For that reason, there should be some flexibility which allows parents to communicate with each other and make smaller decisions themselves.
the other hand, a parenting plan which is too vague is equally unhelpful. If a parenting plan says that a parent’s visitation time should be “frequent” or “often,” the separating parents may find that they have very different definitions of what those terms mean. Without specifying the days or weeks that each parent receives, the parenting plan would be less helpful than if the court had made these decisions on behalf of the parents itself.
Help With Parenting Plans
At Pacific Northwest Family Law PLLC, we help parents work with each other to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Through mediation, negotiation, or litigation if necessary, our knowledgeable Washington family law attorneys will take your side and help you through difficult situations.
If you would like more information about parenting plans, child support, visitation, or any other family law issue, simply call 509-572-3700 to schedule your appointment today.