How Do You Create a Parenting Plan When Conflict Still Exists?

A Parenting Plan is supposed to provide a family with structure for parenting by detailing how the parents will exchange and contact the children, how the parents will share important information, and how they will discuss important decisions. A Parenting Plan recognizes the importance of both parents playing an active role in the children’s lives and avoiding placing the children in the middle of personal feelings and conflicts. When is the right time, however, for parents to mutually create a Parenting Plan?

Florida law requires all parents to have a Parenting Plan as part of a final order. At the time of the court proceedings, though, parents may be experiencing a number of emotions that affect their ability to create a long-term plan as co-parents. It is not uncommon for a person going through a divorce (or other Family Law proceeding) to experience feelings of denial, anger, and/or avoidance. This is not necessarily the correct time to make long-term decisions that impact children. How do you create a Parenting Plan when conflict still exists?

One of the ways to work through these emotions and create a workable Parenting Plan is to make certain it is lengthy and detailed. A detailed Parenting Plan protects both parents from being manipulated by the other parent. If there are residual emotions between the parents, the Parenting Plan should discuss how to handle issues that arise out of the conflicted parenting. This may mean the parents are allowed a period of time to disengage from each other for a short period of time. The parents would agree in the Parenting Plan that during the disengagement period:
• They will not communicate about minor issues;
• They will communicate using email and letters to avoid impulsive remarks;
• They will not use the children as messengers;
• They will work with a counselor, parenting coordinator, or mediator; and
• They will focus on doing their best job as a parent without criticizing the other parent.

The Parenting Plan that allows for periods of disengagement should also recognize a method for cooperative parenting in the future, which is in the best interests of the children. Cooperative parenting exists when the level of conflict between parents is low and they can talk to each other about their children’s needs in a healthy way.

     Posted on March 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm | No comment

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