When couples are about to go their separate ways, they shouldn’t forget about what happens to their children. This is why it is crucial to talk and come up with a Parenting Plan during mediation discussions. A Parenting Plan is a blueprint that helps the children constructively adjust to the changes they will experience during and after their parents’ divorce. It is a plan that both parties should stick to in order to help their children grow up happy, healthy, and secure, despite the fact that their parents’ marriage did not work out.
How a parenting plan could help you prevent problems
When divorcing couples choose to undergo mediation, they tend to be cooperative from the start. While they recognize that they will be separating soon, they still treat each other with respect and civility. But even with this mindset, a couple might still avoid the topic of forming a detailed and exhaustive Parenting Plan. It’s undoubtedly awkward and rather antagonistic to compel the other party to follow your terms while you’re both on your way out. Thus, they think that the matter of parenting should be left as a “flexible” matter to be resolved by “mutual agreement.” Visitation and custody are left as things that could be talked about at some other time.
The problem with this ambiguous set-up is that it is prone to changes. There is no guarantee that you have to remain cordial with each other, especially if a step-parent enters the picture. They may influence how your children should be raised. Attitudes and perspectives can also change. Ambiguity and change are potential sources of trouble not only for both of you but for your children.
Thus, you should not skirt the need for a binding Parenting Plan alongside your Separation Agreement. These two documents have different goals. The separation plan is intended to distribute property and resources between the parties and settle issues of residence. When you have split your properties and decided on the places you have to stay, that’s where the plan ends. A parenting plan, on the other hand, involves a longer span of time as it directly concerns regarding the way you want your children to be raised. Because of its implications to your children’s future long after your divorce, a parenting plan should be something that both of you take seriously.
What a parenting plan should be
A parenting plan should be clear, specific, and detailed. It is also put into writing. Both parents must commit themselves to every detail of its implementation. Parties should develop a parenting plan should be made with their children’s best interests in mind, to protect them from any uncertainty and bickering that may arise in the future.
Among the first things you should lay down in your parenting plan are specific times and places when the children will take turns staying with you, and for how long. “Mutual agreement” and “reasonable access” are terms that could lead to disagreement and restricted access in the future, which is why it’s smart to ditch these terms and specify strict schedules instead. The parenting plan should also define how the children should alternate vacations and holidays with their parents. It might feel too rigid, but your children will thank you for keeping these schedules in order.
Another matter you should iron out in your parenting plan is your share of costs for your children’s education, living, and special events. If one parent is facing financial difficulties, then he or she should not feel ashamed if the other parent would have to shoulder a larger portion of the expenses. After all, it’s the children who are the main beneficiaries.
You shouldn’t also feel insecure about your financial capacity. Parenting is much more than just showering your children with lavish gifts; it’s about giving them love and imparting them values that money can’t buy. In this regard, a parenting plan can also include the kinds of gifts that you are allowed to give to your kids so that they will grow up to have the right values.
If you’re looking for a divorce attorney to help with your case, Judith Goldberg’s Law Office is your best option. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.