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Understanding the importance of a parenting plan

Parenting plans are an important part of the divorce process. Developing a parenting plan can be a significant divorce-related issue for most divorcing parents. Parenting plans can sometimes, however, be difficult to develop and work out so some tips for creating a successful parenting plan may be useful. Divorcing parents may initially question the need for a parenting plan but it is important to keep in mind that life changes following a divorce and relationships change, job schedules change and people have to move or decide to remarry which is why it is important to develop a parenting plan at the outset of the divorce.

A parenting plan will help parents and children during the divorce, immediately following the divorce and to negotiate changes as the need arises in the future after the divorce. A parenting plan is a good basis for the parties moving forward but can allow for some flexibility as the circumstances between the divorced couple permits. In addition, if the relationship between the divorced couple is not good, or deteriorates later on, the parenting plan is in place to guide those important relationships.

It is helpful to thoughtfully approach the creation of a parenting plan to ensure it works for the family prior to its inclusion in a court order and it becomes part of the child custody agreement between the divorced couple. It is important to put the children first and remember that family law decisions concerning children are based on achieving the best interests of the children. It is also important to think things through logistically and account for practical needs such as the children's belongings. Next, divorcing parents should realistically plan for holidays and vacations. It is also necessary to be specific when developing a parenting plan and is helpful to work with a calendar when developing the parenting plan.

Parents should remember to be flexible during the process of developing a parenting plan and understand that the family law legal process provides for flexibility to account for the different circumstances families find themselves in. Developing an effective parenting plan will be a benefit to the divorcing couple immediately following the divorce and later on which is why it is important they understand how to develop the best parenting plan for their family.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Make a Parenting Schedule that Works," Karen Covy, March 4, 2016

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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