Parenting plans are legal documents that outline the details of how parents will share custody of their minor children. It will include daily parenting routines, holiday splits, and how any future decisions will be handled later. A parenting plan is an important document because it helps divorced couples navigate their parenting future in separate households. Plus, once a parenting plan has been signed and filed with the court system, the document becomes the law governing the shared custodial relationship. So, co-parenting can be a difficult task if not prepared for properly.
A family or divorce lawyer can help you with your parenting plan by:
- Establishing your initial plan
- Making changes to an existing plan
- Filing enforcement orders
When beginning the divorce process, couples often place the parenting plan last, believing it will take care of itself. Your parenting plan is more than a document outlining when each parent will have access to the children. A detailed parenting plan can help parents navigate the unfamiliar waters of co-parenting by structuring visits and including guidance on everything from holidays to medical decisions. Co-parents may begin their post-divorce life on difficult terms, so the structure of a parenting plan can help avoid disagreements stemming from heightened emotions and lingering hurt feelings from divorce proceedings. When establishing an initial parenting plan, it’s important that it’s as detailed and clear as possible to keep couples from disagreeing over terms and time-sharing without the benefit of legal assistance.
Parenting plans also include guidelines for how unplanned or new financial responsibilities will be handled. Your parenting plan can provide guidelines for how parents will divide responsibilities like school fees, uncovered medical costs, and other extracurricular expenses that may not have existed when the parenting plan was initially established.
5 Reasons Most Parenting Plans Fail
Parenting plans require more than good intentions to succeed. Most parenting plans fail from a lack of planning and forethought. If you hope to have a successful co-parenting relationship, avoid making these common mistakes.
- Unclear Terms: Child sharing terms should be clearly laid out and given priority. It’s not uncommon for parents to push the terms of their custody agreements to the end of the process, choosing instead to worry about property settlements and navigating emotions and hurt feelings. A divorce attorney can help keep you and your co-parent on course to ensure that your parenting plan gets the attention it needs.
- One-sided Parenting Effort: A successful parenting plan and co-parenting relationship require the participation of both parents. When one parent must do more of the heavy lifting, it can lead to resentment and damage to the parental relationship with the minor children. If one parent has a job that takes them away and causes one parent to be the primary parent, it doesn’t have to become a problem if the perimeters are established at the beginning of the plan.
- Sabotage: Hurt feelings and purposeful damage to the parenting plan is an obvious reason why many plans fail. Using minor children as pawns as parents fight over the issues of their divorce can lead to lasting damage to your child and their relationships with both parents.
- Failure to Put the Kids First: Children should be the focus of the parenting plan, but many couples focus on how time-sharing and co-parenting will affect them and their lives. When the parents and their feelings are the focus of the parenting plan, it can leave kids in uncomfortable routines that don’t support their school schedules and makes their lives harder. When children aren’t the focus of the parenting plan, it can lead to early failure.
- Flexibility: A parenting plan should be a starting point and a document that is flexible. It’s more of a living document than a rigid plan without the ability to bend. Change is the only constant in life, and it’s also the same with your parenting plan. Major life events happen, children’s activities change, parents remarry, and countless other events require flexibility in your parenting arrangement. Being open to changes and regular check-ins with your co-parent can make your life easier and your parenting plan more successful.
Knowledgeable and Thoughtful Divorce Representation
Divorce is a trying time for couples, and if you’ve done everything you can to save your marriage, the thoughtful and knowledgeable attorneys at William Kirby Law can help you navigate the process to end your relationship. Call us today at (215) 515-9901 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form to request more information.