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Turning Points Blog

A family law blog about tying and untying knots and other common threads

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Steps to a workable parenting plan

Posted November 2009. Filed under Parenting

If you have children, the first issue you should consider is how to create a parenting plan that will, to the greatest extent possible, convince your children that their family is intact, even if their parents’ marriage is not.

  1. Don’t wait for the court to decide for you. No court will ever have the time and opportunity to know your children as you and your spouse do. It’s not really in children’s best interest to let a court decide how you are going to parent. It is simply the only alternative when divorcing parents cannot get on the same page. So, many couples sit down together and agree on a parenting plan. A written parenting agreement is helpful even if there is no court order for shared parenting. Find out why. Without an agreement between parents, courts simply follow their own standard parenting time orders. As you might guess, this raises unanticipated and unanswered questions about parenting rights and responsibilities. Clarifying them often involves added expenses and distress for parents and children.
  2. Put the issues on the table. Start by listing all the disagreements you’ve had about everything from homework and friends to bedtime and discipline. You know what the big ones are. They’re fundamental things you don’t want to fight about again and again when you’re divorced. Sure, you might continue to argue about them privately if you stayed married. The problem is, after divorce you usually end up having to work them out publicly, and expensively, in court.
  3. Get an assist. No one says it’s easy. Parenting is an ongoing challenge and divorce usually complicates it. Many parents find it helpful to sit down together with someone experienced in creating parenting plans. Professional counselors have experience and knowledge of what works for people in many situations, some of them similar to yours. They can offer new perspectives on potential problems and help you find ways of getting to solutions interactively.
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