By Adam Sandoval
Establishing a Parenting Plan can be an incredibly stressful, especially during these uncertain times. Whether you are welcoming the birth of a new child or learning to co-parent apart, there are steps you can take now that will lay a better groundwork for yourself later. When courts decide child custody arrangements there are two main factors they consider: 1) How to provide the child with as much stability as possible; and 2) How to preserve the existing bonds and relationships the child has with both parents. To set yourself up for success consider the following:
Establish a Clear Routine
A clear routine will provide your child with stability and consistency as they continue to learn and grow. It is often tough to be a working parent and to maximize the time you can spend with your children. When creating a clear routine, be honest with yourself and recognize what you can and cannot do. Establish a routine that will fit your schedule, allow you the time you need for yourself, and maximize the time you can spend with your children. A clear routine that you and your co-parent can both follow will set an important pattern that a Court can easily follow. Often times the simplest solution is the best one and courts will often work to preserve a schedule that already exists when setting a Parenting Plan rather than creating an entirely new one. This will allow the Court to provide the child with stability and offers the Court the assurance that the Parenting Plan is workable.
Keep Good Records
One of the most frustrating parts of establishing a Parenting Plan is the lack of clear and credible information available to the Court. Believe it or not, some people even lie to the Court. Even when no one is lying to the Court, it is easy for different people to remember the same event differently. Establishing clear records provides the Court with a solid baseline to evaluate your case. It is important to keep accurate records of the things that concern you the most. Some examples of things to record include:
- When visitation occurred and for how long.
- Keep records of the dates and times you spent time with your children.
- Document any changes to your existing plan and the reasons why you made a change.
- Communicate by email as much as possible.
- Written communication establishes a record that you can look back on later if you and your co-parent remember things differently.
- When communicating by email (or at all) be reasonable and write with the assumption that a Judge may be reading your messages later.
- Write down any conflicts or disputes you may have with your co-parent and the steps you have taken to resolve your disagreements.
- If you and your co-parent can not agree, you may need a Court to resolve the dispute. Establishing a clear record from the start of a dispute will allow the Court to see the whole picture.
- Document the efforts you have taken to reach a compromise. You do not want to appear unreasonable before the Court and trying to reach a compromise will only improve your image before the court.
Our children are often the nearest and dearest things to our hearts, and it is easy to get stuck on our own ideas of parenting. Do not let your own emotions keep you from being reasonable. At the end of the day, your child will be spending a significant amount of time with each parent. Seeking compromises will only help your child in their transitions between households. Not all disputes can be settled with compromise, however, it is important to at least make the effort. When disputes do require the Court to get involved, your efforts to compromise and negotiate with your co-parent will only show the Court that you are being reasonable.
If you have any quesitons about creating or modifying a parenting plan, the attorneys at Gravis Law can help. Please give a call and schedule a consult.