April 19, 2013

The Best Parenting Plan is the One You Never Have To Use

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to co-parenting after divorce, the best parenting plan is the one you never have to use.

Creating the parenting plan is perhaps the most important part of your collaborative divorce process. But if you put the time and energy into creating a complete plan, you will lay the foundation for good communication and have the flexibility to work with your former spouse as your children’s needs change in the future. The habits of good co-parenting will be ingrained and will be second nature.

Minnesota law permits parents to avoid the labels of legal and physical custody if they have a parenting plan that spells out the important aspects of parenting. In collaborative divorce, parents frequently choose to use a child specialist who can help them develop a thoughtful parenting plan that is tailored to their family. Parenting plans typically include:

  • the schedule of how the children will divide their time between the parents;
  • how the parents will communicate about their children;
  • how the parents will make important decisions related to their children, such as schools, activities, and religion;
  • how the parents will handle child care and medical care;
  • how the parents will handle contact with the extended family;
  • how the parents will introduce the children to new partners.

When you invest in having the discussions necessary to reach agreement on these topics, you create a comprehensive written plan.  But what’s even more valuable, you have experienced communicating as co-parents —  working through disagreements, reaching an understanding about how to approach the ever-changing future landscape of parenting.  The more you practice these skills, the better you become.

As your children grow up, you will have the solid foundation of communication and the flexibility to adapt to your children’s changing needs.  You won’t need to pull out the document to look up how you are going to handle co-parenting.

Kellie McConahayABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kellie McConahay
Attorney, McConahay Law Firm PC

Kellie McConahay is a collaborative attorney and mediator. After her own divorce, Kellie was inspired to create a law firm focused exclusively on helping families stay out of court. She experienced firsthand the pain, anger and fear at the beginning of a divorce, but the collaborative process brought healing and, eventually, joy to her family. Kellie knows the process chosen in a divorce, particularly with children, impacts every member of the family for years to come. You can learn more at www.McConahayLaw.com

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3 Responses to The Best Parenting Plan is the One You Never Have To Use

  1. Ron Ousky says:

    Great points Kellie. The way the parents treat each other when they are developing their parenting plan is a better predictor of success than the actual language in the plan.

  2. I think of a parenting plan as a default document that only needs to be referenced when parents can’t reach agreement on schedules or holidays, but have done the work that Kelly refers to during the process to learn to be flexible and focus on the best interests of the children and value each other as co-parents. Hopefully it is a document that will gather dust, but have been worth every penny spent creating it. I see it time and time again.

  3. Deborah Clemmensen says:

    Thanks for a beautifully articulated description of the benefits of creating a parenting plan, Kellie!

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