Child custody can be one of the most emotionally charged issues divorcing parents face. After all, parents seeking a divorce understand that they will likely not see their child every day once the split is complete. However, it is important to remember that for a child to grow and thrive, the child deserves to spend time with each parent, so that the child can cultivate a meaningful relationship with each parent. It's helpful for parents going through a divorce to try to keep their emotions calm, and work together to create a parenting plan that meets the child's best interests.
The idea of cooperating with one's ex may seem counterintuitive to parents who are divorcing. But, if parents are able to devise a parenting plan out-of-court, it gives them more control over the final result, and it sets the stage for the cooperation, they will have to maintain over the years as they raise their child together. Many judges agree that parents are far better suited to make decisions for their children than judges & encourage parents to co-parent, rather than to leave the decision to the person in the courtroom who ultimately knows the least about their child.
A comprehensive parenting plan can address a number of key issues. For example, it can address where the child will live and when, along with any visitation, holiday and vacation schedules. It can also address how parents will make key life decisions; how they will raise the child; and the child's welfare. In addition, a parenting plan can contain information on how the child will maintain contact with extended family members and friends. Finally, a parenting plan should delineate how disputes regarding the parenting plan will be resolved, and how the parties can modify the parenting plan.
Parenting plans can address other issues not covered in this post. In the end, a parenting plan is entirely customizable, which could benefit both the parents and the child by addressing their specific, unique circumstances. Many parents find that creating a parenting plan out-of-court provides them with an outcome to their child custody issues that is fair and appropriate.
Source: FindLaw, "The Parenting Agreement," accessed Jan. 7, 2018