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Protecting children from custody conflicts

Parents who face divorce have many difficult tasks ahead of them, and it is regularly tempting for one parent or the other to act out in unacceptable ways. Even when both parents intend to create a stable, loving home for their children, the tensions between them can lead to unfair behavior that not only violates the rights of the other parent, but harms the children they love.

Most standard parenting agreements include terms that forbid one parent's interference with the other's parenting time, but these are generalized and may require some specific attention. Far too often, parents want to avoid addressing these issues in detail because they want to foster an environment of trust and good faith.

While this desire is admirable, it is not always in the best interest of the children or the parents. If you and your spouse are headed for divorce, be sure to pay special attention to the provisions that forbid parental interference as you work through your parenting and custody agreement. A family law attorney is an excellent resource to help you create a parenting plan that truly reflects your priorities as a parent and protects the ones you love.

Get it in writing if you want it to hold up in court

One of the most common mistakes that parents make as they are working through their parenting plan is being flexible with the specifics, and assuming that verbal agreements are as legally actionable as written agreements.

While it is always wise to consider the bigger picture when creating a parenting agreement, and it is usually unwise to use a scorched-Earth approach to custody negotiations, there is a balance in the middle ground that protects all parties and allows flexibility.

In many instances, the difficulty lies in creating an agreement that sufficiently accounts for potential conflicts while allowing both sides room to grow as parents and as people, just as the children in the family do.

A strong parenting agreement should not only include provisions that forbid parenting interference, but provide specific remedies that reflect certain violations. Furthermore, if two parents anticipate needing flexibility in a parenting plan, it is much wiser to write this flexibility into the agreement rather than have an informal agreement that one party may use to manipulate the other.

Otherwise, a parent who suffers unfair treatment from the other has little recourse without making expensive documentation of the other parent's bad behavior. Ultimately, having to use strong legal tools to keep the other parent in line is more difficult and costly after the divorce, and may cause serious emotional harm to the children at the heart of the dispute.

Protect your family with careful attention

Your family is the most important thing you have, so it is crucial to prioritize your children's safety and security, both materially and emotionally. Carefully planning and executing a detailed, personalized parenting plan ensures that you and your spouse have all the tools you need to weather this difficult season and give your children the best life you can while protecting your rights and privileges.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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