13 Sep Benefits of Having a Parenting Plan in Place
Washington State requires divorcing parents to file parenting plans that address custody and visitation. Couples experiencing difficulties in their relationships—even if they intend to work them out—should have clear ideas of how they will care for their children in the event of a separation. When partners cannot resolve their differences and a separation evolves into a divorce, having a parenting plan in place that is acceptable to both parents is critical to their children’s well-being.
Children who are watching their parents split up may be under tremendous stress: they may feel as though they are losing their family, and they may blame themselves. The uncertainty of the situation can also create anxiety and fear. Having a parenting plan in place gives your children predictability: you can share the basics with them in an age-appropriate way, reassuring them that both parents will be there for them on a regular, consistent schedule.
Facilitates Communication—or Not
A parenting plan lays out all the rules for custody and visitation. Some couples that are able to communicate with each other civilly, even amicably, will be able to touch base regularly about schedules, travel, and educational or medical matters affecting their kids. Other parents, however, are best left with clear plans that set expectations so that they do not have to talk to each other very much. In messy divorces where there is a lot of rancor, a main benefit of having a parenting plan in place is that it puts some space between partners who simply cannot communicate in a civil way.
Ensures Parents Stay Involved
A parent subject to a court-ordered parenting plan cannot shirk their parental responsibilities without getting the attention of the courts. Disobeying a court order is a crime punishable by fines or even jail time. Threatening a parent with contempt of court to get them to comply with a parenting plan should not be necessary, but sometimes it is—often in cases in which a noncustodial parent has remarried and started a new family. Ensuring that a noncustodial parent remains involved in their children’s lives provides the stability that children need for healthy development.
The Washington child custody attorneys at LaCoste Family Law can help you devise a parenting plan that will be acceptable to both parties and to the court and that will be enforceable in the event that one parent consistently fails to uphold their part of the plan. When a parent has clearly checked out of their children’s lives, however, approaching the court for a modification of the parenting plan may be necessary to address this sad reality. The lawyers at LaCoste can help you create a plan that works for you and, most importantly, for your children.