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Getting the details right in a parenting plan

Everyone understands that divorce is a difficult and emotional process. The process often becomes more difficult and more emotional when parents divorce. There are often complex child custody issues and their family law attorneys to work out.

Psychology professor, psychotherapist and children’s book author Merriam Sarcia Saunders wrote a column recently offering advice on how to craft parenting plans that will help parents cope with divorce and differences over child-raising. Saunders notes parenting plans can spare everyone – most importantly your child – needless angst and conflict.

“The more detailed the (parenting) agreement, the less the future conflict—and the better experience your children will have,” Saunders wrote. She lists several topics she considers important to include in parenting plans, including the following:

  • Daily Decision-Making Autonomy

She said that when possible, divorcing parents should agree on things such as bedtime, diet, screen-time homework, etc. up-front and to put their agreement into writing in the parenting plan. But if you can’t agree on these matters, agree that each parent will have autonomy to make these decisions in their own home – and then stick to that agreement. Yes, one parent will be looser with certain rules and restrictions, but that’s OK. “Your child will be fine,” she writes.

  • Holidays

Make sure to include an annual holiday schedule. Many parents choose alternating years for holidays. Be sure to include a note about when the regular custody schedule resumes after holidays.

  • Family events

Sometimes family events (weddings, funerals, etc.) will happen in your former spouse’s family while your child is scheduled to be with you. Saunders urges parents to remember that your son or daughter is part of both families and that such events are important to attend. Consider writing this possibility into your parenting plan so that everyone is on the same page if the circumstance arises.

A Lake Charles attorney who knows Louisiana family law can help you craft a parenting plan that will protect your child and your rights.

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