When two parents choose to divorce, they must create a parenting plan delineating how they each share the benefits and responsibilities of parenthood. Often, these issues are some of the most difficult to resolve during the divorce process, because many parents feel the need to fight for greater control over their child's life rather than creating a plan that truly focuses on the child's needs.
A strong parenting plan protects the best interests of the child while establishing healthy boundaries for parents. When one or both parents refuse to follow the parenting plan, they may suffer consequences from a family court. If you are working through your own parenting plan now, or if you experience difficulty getting another parent to respect your existing parenting plan, now is a good time to develop a strong legal strategy to protect your child and yourself.
Key components of a parenting plan
Each parenting plan should reflect the specific needs of the child at the heart of the agreement. Building a parenting plan from this perspective helps parents focus on their child over their own motivations. Even well-meaning parents may not realize that violating a parenting order can affect their parenting privileges. As you build or review your parenting plan, there are several key points to consider. These include:
- Scheduled custody transfers or visitation
- Where the child spends the majority of their time in a parent's home
- How parents plan to resolve disputes surrounding issues such as faith practices, diet, education and medical care
- Where the child spends their holidays and vacation time
- Plans for contacting family and members of the community in an emergency
- Plans for resolving disputes and altering the parenting agreement
With care and attention, it is possible to use a parenting plan to build strong relationships between a child and both of their parents, as well as others in their family and community. As you review or build you parenting plan, focusing on the needs of your child helps keep priorities in line for all parties involved.
Protecting your rights as a parent
In some instances, one parent or the other may violate the guidelines in a parenting plan. A well-crafted plan addresses these issues before they arise, so that there is little confusion about how to resolve the conflict.
As a parent, you have rights that you may need to protect with the strength of the law. Make sure to use all the strong legal resources you have available to understand these issues clearly and keep your rights secure.
Your parenting journey may take many surprising turns along the way. Healthy, respectful parenting is much easier with a strong parenting plan creating clear boundaries for each parent. Taking some time and effort to establish these boundaries and maintain them helps ensure that you get to enjoy all the time with your child that you can, investing in the future of the child you love.