4 Tips for A Strong Parenting Plan
Feb. 20, 2019
Perhaps the most complicated decision you will have to make when finalizing your divorce is creating a mutually beneficial parenting plan. There are many things to decide, which will all be influenced by a number of factors. Are you going to be living in the same area or do you plan to move to a new town? Do the children’s school activities coincide with your job schedule? Considering these logistics is vital in order to prepare a parenting schedule that works for everyone. With that in mind, here are four important tips for a strong parenting plan.
Details Stop Arguments
Whatever the nature of your relationship with the other parent is, adding insufficient details to your plan will only be beneficial. Little things such as naming the date and time a particular holiday starts (think Christmas and Christmas Eve, or even Halloween) mean that both parents will be on the same page when the holiday comes around. Specifying the times that kids are available for pickup, for the start of vacations, for the start of a long weekend means that the other parent cannot try to hold you hostage over a disagreement about what time the kids will or should be ready.
The best part is that these details don’t cause any harm even if you have a great relationship with the other parent or a relationship that allows you to communicate and work through issues together. As many judges will tell you, if you are able to work something out between the two of you that is different than what is written down on paper then feel free to follow the plan you develop. The paper agreement is designed to be the fallback position should you ever find yourself in a situation in which you don’t agree with the other parent.
Plan for Several Different Scenarios
There are many things that can happen when it comes to childcare. Now that you are co-parenting separately, you need to prepare for different situations apart from your usual routine. For instance, do you have a contingency plan for when the other parent is not available due to an unprecedented event?
If they choose to have someone else babysit the children, would that be okay with you or would you prefer to stay with them instead? Discussing situations like this when drafting your parenting plan can go a long toward preventing future conflicts.
Be Open to Compromise, Even if It Isn’t Written in The Agreement
Many times, couples don’t agree on every aspect of their divorce. As such, you may have to compromise a little in order to make your parenting plan work. Keep in mind that the parenting plan is all about your children’s best interests, not what’s best for you.
This is essentially designed to ensure that the kids benefit from a strong relationship with both parents. If you notice certain issues interfering with your decision-making process, step back, reflect, and let your children’s wellbeing take priority. And if you need to head back to court to resolve an ongoing issue, it is worth noting that one of the factors the court is required to evaluate is “Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent.” ARS 25-403(A)(6)
Involve the Kids
If you have very young children, it may not be practical to ask them for their input in your parenting plan. For older kids, however, you should consider discussing your parenting arrangements together and ask them whether they have any preferences. It is particularly important to allow them to express themselves, even if you end up overruling their suggestions.
Be careful not to give them too much leeway when it comes to choosing their preferences. You are still the parent and left to their own devices your kids might demand you put root beer in the drinking fountains. But it is good for children to be able to share things like what their ideal parenting time solution would be. Ultimately, it is still the parents’ responsibility to decide what is in the minor children's best interests and that might include an evaluation of their schooling, social, emotional, mental, and physical needs.
Following these tips will help you and your co-parent come to a mutual agreement regarding your parenting plan. However, if you are unable to find common ground and decide to take the matter to court, Tad Davis has you covered. Get in touch now.