Parents who choose divorce face the same difficult process of developing a parenting plan that meets the needs of their children while protecting their own rights. Far too often, one or both sides in a custody conflict may push for unfair terms in the custody agreement or parenting plan, so it is wise for any parent facing divorce to have a clear understanding of the issues at hand.
A strong parenting plan lays out expectations and boundaries that parents can use as they raise their child together. Unfortunately, not all parenting plans offer proper boundaries and protections, and may not even address the needs of the child. In order to provide your child with the best life that you can while protecting yourself against unfair behavior, you must understand the value of a well-built parenting plan.
What should a parenting plan include?
Parenting plans are not one-size-fits-all because each family has different needs. However, strong agreements tend to share some things in common, such as:
- Where the child lives
- Guidelines around exchanging child custody or honoring visitation rights
- Which parent spends holidays and vacation time with the child
- How to resolve conflicts around how to raise and educate the child
- Guidelines for contacting other family members, such as grandparents
- Various responsibilities that each parent assumes as part of custody
It is also important for a parenting plan to include language that specifically protects both parents from interference by the other. In many cases, one or both parents may behave in unacceptable ways, either for their own gain or to frustrate the other parent.
Parenting time interference is a serious offense, and courts do not look kindly on parents who violate each other's rights. A strong parenting plan sets clear boundaries around what is and is not acceptable behavior by a parent when dealing with their child and ensures that both parents respect each other's rights. For instance, if one parent speaks negatively about the other parent to the child, this should be a violation of the parenting plan. A strong parenting agreement addresses this possibility and lays out how each party can resolve the issue.
Protect yourself for the sake of your family
Without a strong parenting plan, you may have few options if your child's other parent begins violating your rights. Make sure that you use excellent legal resources or guidance to create an agreement that protects your rights and your child, while meeting the requirements of the court that must approve and enforce your plan. With a strong parenting agreement in place, you can focus on building a good life for your child for years to come.