Two Ways of Thinking About a Parenting Plan
There are different ways to think about a “Parenting Plan.” One way to think about a Parenting Plan is as a legal document—a court order that states where children live at different times, who legally makes decisions and similar legal matters. A different way to think about a Parenting Plan is to create a structure and roadmap for effective post-divorce co-parenting, recognizing that raising children to adulthood has normal challenges and changes.
If you live in the Seattle or King County area and would like to learn about co-creating a parenting plan that meets the needs of your children, please contact Seattle divorce mediator Mark Weiss through the form on this page.
Divorce provides the opportunity to create not just a court order, but a a structure for effective post-divorce co-parenting, including how to navigate the rough waters that are inevitable when raising little ones to adulthood. This type of plan sets the stage for effectively working together as partners in raising your children. Parents who do this successfully know what to expect from each other, can maintain a balance between predictability and flexibility in parenting, and adapt to changing needs across separate households. They create something akin to a “business partnership” in the “business” of co-parenting their children.
Mediation can help you create a true plan for parenting instead of merely a court order.
How Is a Parenting Plan Created in Mediation?
Most people have not considered all that is involved in parenting across households, and the changes that are predictable when raising children. A mediator with skill and background in post-divorce parenting considerations can provide information about landmines to avoid, and approaches that have worked well. A good mediator can provide insights about the experience of the children, and educate about structures that work well for parents. If your family has special needs children, or you want input from co-parenting experts, specialists are available to assist you by providing any additional information and structure to craft a Parenting Plan plan that addresses the needs of your family and that supports healthy co-parenting. The discussion is more involved than simply ticking check-boxes on a form; over the long-term, the investment of a little time for these discussions during the divorce is that ounce of prevention that makes the difference in the future.
How Does Parental Conflict Affect Children?
Studies show that children of divorce have a 10-15% higher likelihood of serious psychological and social problems compared to children in married families, strongly correlated to conflict between parents. In other words, kids who are exposed to conflict suffer. The problems seen include increased risk of emotional disturbance and depression, poorer scholastic performance, drug and alcohol use, and promiscuity. The primary risk factors are (1) stress from the divorce process, (2) continuing parental conflict, (3) diminished parenting after separation and divorce, (4) loss of important relationships, (5) remarriage and re-partnering, and (6) reduced economic opportunities. Research shows that involvement of both parents in parenting after the divorce is protective for the children. The most important thing parents can do to help their children be successful after the divorce is to simply stop fighting and to resolve their conflicts.
If you live in the Seattle or King County area and would like to learn about co-creating a parenting plan that meets the needs of your children, please contact Seattle divorce mediator Mark Weiss at (206) 622-6707.
Accordingly, consider a divorce process that will help you reduce unnecessary parental conflict. Mediation may be that process. Conventional legal representation is based on a “win-lose” model—each person fights to win (or to not lose). Mediation is designed to help you reach agreement. And, it affords the opportunity to build a healthy post-divorce co-parenting relationship.