The importance of parenting plans

Custody issues are often among the most difficult and critical decisions faced by Texas parents who are divorcing. Because of the delicate and volatile nature of emotions surrounding the disposition of parenting rights and responsibilities, a parenting plan can be a useful tool for delineating boundaries and making expectations clear.

One of the most important things with custody and parenting rights is to keep focused on the long term. Although emotional situations may precipitate strong reactions in the present moment, even when children reach the age of majority will not necessarily be the end of parental involvement. Important life events will occur continue to occur and there could be the possibility of grandchildren. The marriage may end, but the shared parenting could continue for a very long time. This should be considered in every parenting decision.

Parenting plans will address a few key issues. Legal custody is usually awarded jointly, so the parents will need to address certain types of decisions such as where the child will attend school. In most cases, physical custody, which is where the child lives, is awarded to one parent with the other obtaining visitation rights. The parenting plan can either cast these decisions in stone or it can be flexible.

Co-parenting works best when the divorced couple realize that the best interests of their children are the primary goal. The parents should put aside any thoughts of custody being a battle with a winner and a loser. When negotiating a custody arrangement, it is advisable that each parent has separate representation from a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Je Ne Sais Quoi of Sound Parenting Plans", Tara Fass, March 15, 2016

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