The parenting plan is one of the most important issues covered in the divorce mediation process and clearly specifies how the co-parenting will move forward. Parents work together to establish a plan and a schedule that will work for them and, most importantly, benefit their child or children by ensuring they receive support, nurturing and love from both parents. This plan serves as the blueprint for how the children will be co-parented after the divorce and a detailed parenting plan can help things go more smoothly for both the parents and their children.
A More Effective Process than Litigation
Both parents work together to develop the parenting plan. Mediation can make the parenting plans more flexible and uniquely customized to fit the needs of the entire family. Parenting plans developed in mediation generally are more effective than those developed through the litigation process because they are jointly developed by both parents with the intention of putting the interests of the children first.
A Comprehensive Plan
Parenting plans are unique to each family but they all contain certain basic elements that provide for the children’s physical care and emotional well-being, including:
- Custody arrangements
- Visitation schedule (including holidays and vacations)
- Plans for transitioning between homes
- Communication arrangements between parents
- Communication between the children and their parents, as well as with extended family
Parenting plans also cover details about such things as access to medical and school records, each parent’s role and rights in the decision-making process and child care arrangements. Some even contain detailed agreements on child-raising methods, including things such as discipline, chores and allowances. Most importantly, each parenting plan is tailor-made to include everything that matters to your family.
The Benefits of Parent Plans
In mediation, the parties develop a parenting plan that is as detailed and complex as the parties want it to be. The more it covers and the more specific it is, the more effective the parenting will be, as both parents are working together. (Custody arrangements established by the court can be very restrictive and many times leave one parent, and even the children, feeling slighted, frustrated or angry.)
- Working with the mediator, the parents put the children’s best interests first.
- Mediation is a neutral environment in which to discuss options and how to go about the co-parenting after divorce.
- Parents work together to develop a plan that considers future scenarios and “what if” situations. Plans developed in mediation can be more flexible and accommodating on this front.
- Developing a parenting plan in mediation helps the parties develop communication and negotiation skills. Parents learn to discuss disagreements in an open and mature manner.
- Divorce can be a traumatic experience for children. The parenting plan can assist in helping parents communicate to their children that they care for them, are concerned for them, will be with them always and that they will continue to be parented by a loving and nurturing parent.
- Effective plans can make the transition to two separate households as stress-free as possible.