Going through a family law or divorce case can be both financially and emotionally taxing, and much more so for any children involved in the legal battle. Regardless of how amiable you and your spouse may be through the process, children are often stuck in the crosshairs and can be unknowingly hurt. To make sure you avoid this, it is important to create an effective Parenting Plan, otherwise known as a Custody and Visitation Order, to ensure that both parents can remain as part of their children’s’ lives, despite a divorce.
If you’re facing a family law dispute and want to ensure that your children are put in the best possible position to cope and adjust to the upheaval your case will cause, read on to find out what you have to consider when developing a Parenting Plan.
Children Come First
During a family law or divorce case, many people have the tendency to start seeing their spouse as the enemy, especially if the marriage is ending on particularly bad terms. However, it is of utmost importance to put any negative emotions to the side when it comes to the wellbeing of your children, It may be helpful to think of the Parenting Plan as a business proceeding, where you’re attempting to work out a mutually beneficial plan for everyone involved. You may want to hurt your spouse by limiting his or her time with the kids, but is that really going to be best for your kids?
Keep Track of Everything
Putting your plan down on paper doesn’t mean that you don’t trust your spouse, and is a sensible and responsible plan. Many of us are busy enough in our regular lives, let alone when you have a family law case going on. With so much going on you likely will not be able to remember everything that you have agreed to, so writing it all down is the best course of action. Similarly, it is also a good idea to keep records of how the relationship develops, especially if you’re expecting an ongoing or prolonged dispute. Writing down exchange times and places, as well as your children’s social lives and homework completion will help as well.
Remember your Children’s Responsibilities
If your children are old enough, they probably have several extracurricular and social responsibilities to maintain and it is a bad idea to create a Parenting Plan that interferes with these responsibilities. Following a divorce, the less changes to your children’s routines the better. Whether your child has a sports event, practice, or a tutoring session, it is important to remember that if your parenting time conflicts with these responsibilities, it is more valuable for your child for you to support them in their endeavors than to keep them tied to your side.
Separate your Needs from your Child’s
While you may just be looking to get as far away from your spouse as possible, remember that your child still needs both parents and may not share the same feelings as you – and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Children adjust in different ways to separation and need as much support as they can get. It is also a bad idea, morally and legally, to try to get your child to spy on your spouse during their parenting hours so we highly recommend against that as well. Never try to use your children as a tool or as an intermediary between you and your ex.
A Parenting Plan must be tailored to your specific situation and needs and so will be different every time. That being said, we feel that this guide can give you a good place to start when trying to figure out the best way to go about drafting your Parenting Plan to keep your children safe and supported.
The process is rarely easy, and if you’re having trouble navigating through the labyrinth of forms and documents involved in a family law hearing or trial, don’t hesitate to contact the trained and qualified team at the law office of Carolyn Moller Duncan, P.C. today!