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Parenting Plans

3rd December 2018

Parenting Plans

When couples separate I find within my practice that one of the biggest stressors for them is that they worry about what is going to happen to the children. Where are they going to live? When will I see them again? How will they feel when they are not with me etc. What if my ex meets someone new? 

There is enough going on with each individual within perhaps divorce proceedings or separation which can be financially and emotionally draining and exhausting to manage, and in all of this thought needs to be given to child arrangements the issues of which are highly emotive themselves and can cause no end of continuing conflict and animosity between them. 

I believe that most parents recognise the importance for the children to be told by both of them and for them to believe that they are loved and protected and that they are not the cause of their parents separating. Often children think that they have done something wrong and struggle to understand that they are not the reason that mummy and daddy don’t love each other anymore. In the midst of the parental conflict the considerations that each party need to give in respect of the children can seem overwhelming and difficult to know how to manage. 

It is at this point that I encourage parents to consider a Parenting Plan. This is a written document that sets out arrangements and practical issues that need to be thought about when parents separate.  A benefit of this type of document is that it is the parents themselves who decide what needs to go in it. After all, it is usually the parents who are the best people to be making decisions about how their family is going to function after separation. 

A Parenting Plan can assist in establishing any points or issues that cannot be agreed so easily and identify what steps may need to be taken to resolve these. For example, Family Mediation is a positive way forward of assisting separating parties in making agreements by holding round table discussions leading to you both making choices together. 

The Parenting Plan can also help you manage any surrounding issues such as:- 

  • how you communicate with each other
  • where are the children going to live
  • the importance of the children quality and meaningful time with each parent
  • the importance of sharing information
  • who else is to be involved in their lives and how
  • education
  • medical and health care
  • what happens in case of an emergency
  • how you can deal with new partners
  • understanding each party’s role and what is expected of them 

Each issue is unique to you and your family and can assist in helping both of you to consider the needs of the children and make informed decisions about co-parenting your children.  

A Parenting Plan can be made directly between each other, or where this often proves difficult, with the assistance of a third party, ie a legal advisor or a family mediator. The Parenting Plan gives separating parents an opportunity of raising issues early in a calm and managed manner where both parties can address any concerns or points raised and hopefully without the need for any costly contested Court proceedings, which can add greatly to an already stressful and emotional situation.  

In the event there are Court proceedings, it is likely that judges will want you to explore a Parenting Plan and it will assist greatly if a Plan is already underway and give focus to the issues that are not agreed. 

If you would like further information on our Parenting Plan service please contact Deborah Whicker

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