When children are involved, the divorcing couple will devote significant time and effort into ensuring the kids are protected and taken care of in the future. From child support to child custody, parents will work together through mediation or litigation to develop a strong plan for their post-divorce interactions. An important element of any divorce is the development of a comprehensive parenting plan that blends the needs of the children with the needs of the parents.
Unfortunately, divorcing parents can make countless mistakes when drafting this document. Here are four common mistakes to avoid:
- Failing to include provisions for holiday travel: Family situations are all unique, and this might not be an issue for everyone, but it is wise to consider including travel terms. If one parent is planning a vacation overseas, for example, the other parent might have objections. It is important to either broach the issue in advance or lay the groundwork for how the matter should be resolved.
- Failing to include alternative holiday schedules: The parents might have different ideas about how a holiday parenting time schedule might work. From alternating holidays on even-numbered years to spending Christmas Eve at one house and Christmas Day at the other, it is crucial that the divorcing parents design a plan now. Additionally, they should agree to a back-up plan in case alternatives become necessary.
- Failing to include provisions for parental disagreements: It is not uncommon for methods of child-rearing to change. From the types of punishments dolled out, to how the child’s desire to undertake body modifications are handled, parents are likely to disagree. While the parenting plan agreement simply cannot cover every contingency, it is important to lay out how these disagreements will be handled.
- Failing to include alternative custody exchange locations: As people move and other significant life events occur, it is wise to include acceptable alternative child custody exchange locations in the parenting plan. From suggested neutral sites to preferred hand-off locations, do not hesitate to include information.
If it becomes necessary in the future, the parenting plan can be adjusted based on the changing needs of the children or the new circumstances of the parents. It is important to work with a trusted legal professional when revisions become a reality. Verbal agreements with your ex are not legally binding and cannot be enforced or punished.