Parenting Plans Help Avoid Conflict Down the Road
Parenting plans are a very important part of a comprehensive settlement agreement. Generally parenting plans form part of a global legal contract, which may be referred to by a variety of names but is commonly referred to as a “Divorce and Property Agreement”. At Jones Divorce Mediation, we encourage parents to develop fairly specific and far-reaching parenting plans, even if the situation is currently amicable as a comprehensive parenting plan can be used as a rule book that parties can fall back on in the event a disagreement arises in the future.
A Parenting Plan Creates a Framework
Obviously, parenting plans should reflect the interests and needs of the children, but a good parenting plan can also help reduce conflict between parents by setting clear guidelines and expectations. Research clearly shows that children’s chances of coping successfully with their parents’ separation and divorce are far better in the event their parents cooperate with each other and do not expose them to conflict. A detailed parenting plan affords parents with a framework and basic rules to fall back on, often allowing people to remain friendly and to avoid future disagreements. Parties can always deviate from their parenting plan by mutual agreement so there is no harm in having a thorough plan in place.
Parenting Plans Aren’t Set in Stone – Flexibility is Key
Parenting plans should outline how parenting decisions should be made, how information about the children should be shared, when each parent will spend time with the children and how other parenting issues may be addressed. It may be necessary to revisit a parenting plan at some point in the future as situations change or children grow and develop. Parents know their children better than any Justice, Arbitrator, parenting coordinator, counselor or lawyer ever will and will be able to address their children’s needs by creating a flexible and creative parenting plan on their own rather than having one imposed on them.
Parenting Plans Can Help Save Money Down the Road
By creating a comprehensive parenting plan at the time of separation, you and your co-parent can consider and address many of the potentials for conflict down the road. This can help you avoid costly disputes as you can reference the parenting plan for issues such as holidays and vacation time with the kids, agreed upon Section 7 expenses, post-secondary education costs and so much more. In addition to saving money, you also avoid unnecessary conflict or bringing your children into your disputes as all matters will be agreed to and signed off on by both parties who can easily reference the parenting plan at anytime in the future.
Mediation Allows You to Be the Captain of Your Ship
Creating a parenting plan through the mediation process gives you and the other party all of the control. You both get to be creative and decide what works best for you. Since mediation is a voluntary process – nothing can be agreed to without the consent of both parties. A mediator can help you by providing suggestions and templates of common parenting plans – but you have full control over the outcome.
Parenting Plans Help Kids Adjust to Changes
The divorce process is a huge adjustment for a family. Having a consistent schedule can help children adjust to their new circumstances and will help them adapt to their new routines. Children are creatures of habit and like to know the basics of where they will be sleeping each night, whose house they will sleep at on certain days, which school they will attend, etc… by creating a parenting plan, kids will know what to expect and are not surprised when they are moving between homes as it becomes a part of their regular routine.
Sometimes separated parents are able to reach a parenting plan agreement directly but often times a little assistance is required. At Jones Divorce Mediation, our mediators are very experienced in helping families create parenting plans and ensuring they are enforceable, if necessary. If you want to learn more, connect with us today.