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How to Start a Parental Plan for Uncontested Divorce

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 10-Mar-2013

Writing out and negotiating your own parenting plan gives you and your spouse control over you child's future and best interests. An inability to find common ground surrounding issues concerning your child can end up in court where a Pennsylvania judge will tell you what is in the best interest of your child. A parenting plan is an agreement with your spouse stating each of your parental rights and duties.

Try to negotiate your parental plan with minimal conflict. Both you and your spouse love your children and the final agreement should reflect how each of you wants a safe and solid future for him or her. To help ease the process of figuring out what to possibly add into your parenting plan, I have put together some suggestions to get you started.

Similar to negotiating a marital settlement agreement, put your emotions aside. Treat the writing and negotiating of your parental plan as a business relationship. This is not the time to try to punish your spouse for pain he or she may have caused you. In ten years you want to be able to look back and be proud that you put your child's best interest first, over and above any uncontested divorce pain.

Bear in mind that the following are suggestions and your parenting plan should be tailored to the unique needs of your family.

Don't get bogged down in trying to make your parenting plan sound like a legal document a lawyer wrote. It's more important to cover pertinent areas and not get stuck on "legal sounding" words. Also, you are free to add as much or as little detail you want - the more you write into the agreement generally means there is less room for confusion and arguments.

After you have worked out the details of each parent's responsibilities, make sure to state what happens if a parent does not follow through. What provisions will you make if your ex spouse does not comply with the agreement? Will there be consequences for not following through on your parental plan?

An area often overlooked by couples when creating their parenting plan is how the agreement can be changed. Your child's needs will change as he or she grows. You may not be able to predict all of his or her future needs, so a clause for changing a parenting plan can help reduce future conflicts.

You may want to include that you and your ex-spouse will meet annually to review your parenting plan and make appropriate changes. Another important component is determining how you and your ex will "agree to disagree". How are you going to resolve an issue when you cannot find common ground? An example would be that you will enlist the help of a neutral third-party. Make sure to include who you would consider to be an appropriate mediator. The mediator should be a neutral third party. After all, you don't want his or her best friend, parent, or the like determining the outcome of your disagreement.

Writing out guidelines and expectations for your parenting plan during your uncontested divorce can save you considerable time, energy and money later on. Effectively communicating now with your spouse can prevent the expenses and stress of trying to convince the court what is truly in your child's best interest.