Family law can be one of the most divisive and heartbreaking areas of the law in my opinion. Broken families attempting to navigate the already complicated process of parenting now have to attempt to do that at two different households. The circumstances surrounding each breakdown of a relationship vary, and, as such, some are significantly more strained. Often, parents tend to focus on the children they created together and become locked down in a bitter custody battle. This does not always need to be the case.
Although there are many instances where for whatever reason parents do need to go through complicated legal proceedings to determine how custody should be allotted, there are also many people out there that have a general idea of how they would like to co-parent their children. For these people, specifically, I would strongly urge you to still meet with an attorney to draft a parenting plan. Why would parents that are getting along want to do this?
- A well drafted parenting plan helps prevent potential disputes. Well drafted parenting plans have specific times, dates, and exchange locations listed. All too often I see pro se parenting plans brought into the office that have virtually no detail and are incredibly ambiguous. Father gets Tiny Tim on Christmas? Ok, but what time? 12am to 12 pm? Whose responsibility is it to drop him off? Who will provide clothes? All of these details are relevant.
- A parenting plan on file creates a sense of security. As well intentioned as most parents are, tempers can get heated, and in those times, it is tempting for a parent that is hurting to attempt to withhold custody of their child. If you do not have a parenting plan in place, you do not have a legal remedy to get your child back (other than initiating a parenting plan proceeding). If you and your former partner can work together to amicably stipulate to a parenting plan, you can prevent this from happening and also dissuade the temptation of keeping your child to yourself when feelings are raw.
- Financial assistance programs often require a custody arrangement. Let’s face it, child-care is outrageously expensive, and if you have just switched from a two-person to one-person income, you may find yourself looking for a hand up while you attempt to navigate your new financial situation. Programs such as Best Beginnings often need to see what your custody arrangement is with the other parent in order to determine your eligibility for the program. Again, a well drafted parenting plan is essential in this instance.
The list of benefits of a collaborative parenting plan are endless and if you and the other parent can reach an agreement on parenting time it is definitely worth pursuing drafting a parenting plan together. The attorneys at Bryan, diStefano, and Mattingley, PLLP are happy to meet with both parents rather than representing either to help create and formalize a parenting plan that won’t leave parties scratching their heads in confusion when a holiday comes along. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.