When the divorcing couple are parents, factors involving the children take center stage throughout the process. From factors such as child support to those centering on time-sharing, the parents must negotiate compromises that protect the best interest of the children now and in the future. A comprehensive parenting plan is the way to draft contingencies and avoid future debates.
Unfortunately, there are numerous factors that go unaddressed in many parenting plan documents, including:
- Grooming and body modifications: These can be related to dramatic choices about haircuts (shaved head, colored hair) or the growing child choosing to express himself or herself through piercings or tattoos. While the decisions cannot be made years in advance, the parents can address how the topic should be discussed going forward.
- Communication about punishments: Similarly, while specific punishments cannot be meted out in a parenting plan, the parents can set boundaries for communication. It would be confusing to the child to suffer a punishment at mom’s house, but that consequence is lifted when at dad’s. The parents should be on the same page regarding punishments and their durations.
- Bad weather custody exchanges: While Florida residents are unlikely to experience snow-storms or ice-covered roads, bad weather can still happen. With the likelihood of tropical storms that might bring heavy rain and dangerous winds, parents should put something in place in the document. From alternative locations to make the custody exchange, to the steps that must be taken when an exchange cannot be made on time, it is wise to address the topic.
- Avoiding parental alienation: Whether it is a deliberate negative act, or unconscious nonverbal signals, parents might attempt to sway the child’s love and respect through parental alienation. It is wise to address the topic as early in the process as possible.
Working with an experienced family law attorney can mean the difference between drafting a strong parenting plan and setting yourself up for future problems. It is wise to seek legal guidance when preparing for and proceeding through your divorce.