Parents undergoing separation from one another or divorce should never neglect the importance of the child/children’s development and wellbeing during these often challenging times. That’s why parenting plans are often preferred between parents that are not hostile towards one another and simply wish the best for their child/children. Below are some important tips to draft a robust parenting plan.
What is a Parenting Plan?
In brief, a parenting plan is a written arrangement between two parents of one or more children. Normally, it is best to consider different plans for each child. In essence, the parenting plan seeks to improve the welfare and wellbeing of the child in the event of separation or divorce, for example.
- Remember, it’s for the Children
Quite often, one or both parents enter into parenting plans with their own interests in mind. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, but it is nevertheless important to always remember that parenting plans (as well as consent orders and parenting orders) are designed with the welfare of the child/children in mind.
When you prioritise the wellbeing of your child/children, you can then create a plan that also benefits you so long as it benefits the child/children first and foremost.
- Mind Your P’s and Q’s
Parenting plans, like many plans we make in life, should be done carefully and with forethought in mind. This includes the nitty-gritty, the details of the plan and goals that are realistic, time-bound, achievable, and specific enough.
Consider time not only spent with each parent, but also with grandparents and other loved ones. Where will the child/children spend Christmas? Religious ceremonies? Important life events, e.g. graduation from school or competitive sports performance?
- Plan for Contingencies
Following on the previous point, it’s important to keep in mind contingencies with the parenting plan. Travel arrangements, holidays, birthday celebrations, and other such events may not happen every day, but they are nonetheless important to consider if you wish to spend time with your child/children during these moments.
- Consider Getting a Consent Order
Remember that a parenting plan is, in general, not legally enforceable. Parenting plans may be legally enforceable if the court has issued a parenting order, and even then the parenting plan may be void if you or your ex-partner signed under duress or coercion.
Instead, parents may wish to obtain a consent order from the courts. Consent orders are similar in that they seek to set forth a plan for the wellbeing and welfare of the children, but they are legally enforceable and as such are a little more secure should the other parent become delinquent with child support payments or otherwise not live up to their end of the commitment.
- Retain Professional Legal Guidance
Although in many circumstances parenting plans are not legally enforceable, it is nevertheless in your best interest to retain the services of a professional legal expert in the preparation of a parenting plan.
Not only will legal counsel help towards improving the successful outcomes for your child/children, but it will also provide you with alternatives such as consent orders in the event that your ex-partner fails to meet their obligations.
National Family Lawyers
Get in touch with National Family Lawyers for all matters related to family law.