Family & Relationships

Put Your Parenting Plan in Writing

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Going through a divorce can be very hard for everyone involved. On days when you feel that a lot is out of control– it’s likely that your children feel the same way. ARAG Attorney Lacey Noel suggests that parents put the new “rules of order” in writing to help restore order and minimize the drama.

A written parenting agreement or parenting plan defines how both parents are going to share time and decision making regarding the children. It allows both parents to discuss the issues and how to handle them. Here are three tips to keep in mind when creating your parenting plan.

1. At minimum, the parenting plan will cover visitation, custody and living arrangements.

You may also want to cover issues such as:

  • Financial issues (child support and expenses).
  • Education.
  • Medical care.
  • Religious training.
  • Holidays.

2. Consider filing your parenting agreement with the court so you can enforce it if your ex-spouse doesn’t live up to its terms.

Remember that by spelling out what you both will do, you’re helping reinforce what you won’t do. By committing to work out your differences as adults, you commit to not let your child know when you and your ex-spouse are struggling to get along.

3. If you do run into a situation where one parent is not following the rules in the parenting plan, then you may need to go back to court.

You’ll need to contact your attorney and let her know what is going on so she can advise you the best course of action. In most cases you’ll need to set up a court date to go in front of the judge and tell them that the other parent is not cooperating.

For many couples, the decision to work through a written parenting plan helps set the stage for a successful post-divorce relationship by setting clear expectations, which in turn can reduce conflict. While it may take some effort, it can make a big difference to put your child first and realize he or she is the most important consideration.

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