What does it take to co – parent well? Aside from a good attitude and the commitment to put your children first, you will also need a solid, well-thought-out plan.
Whether you are divorced, separated or were never married to start off with, if you have children together, you are going to be part of each other’s lives for a very long time. Consider working with your ex to develop a set of written guidelines and expectations (parenting plan) for raising your children together. After all, co – parenting is much like being business partners, and you’d never run a business with someone you didn’t communicate with.
Consider your parenting plan to be a road map that will direct how the children will be raised after separation or divorce. Such a plan is so incredibly detailed, that it pretty much makes conflict between the parents non – existent.
According to the Children’s Act parents or other holders of responsibilities and rights towards the children , who are in conflict regarding the exercise of these rights and responsibilities, should first attempt to mediate their differences with the assistance of a suitably qualified professional, before approaching the court for assistance. A parenting plan can be mediated with the help of the Family Advocate, Psychologist, Social Worker or Family Mediator.
The Act also specifies that the voice of the child should be heard. The child must therefore be given an opportunity to air his/her views and the content of the parenting plan must be explained to him/her . The age and maturity of each child will to be taken into consideration when hearing the voice of the child.
Furthermore, according to the Children’s Act, all decisions that are made regarding the children need to adhere to the “best interest of the child” standard. This simply means that all decisions that are made regarding the child need to be in the best interest of the child.
What will be dealt with in the Parenting Plan?
- living arrangements of the child
- maintenance for the child
- contact between the child and the other parent or any other significant person
- religious upbringing
- emergency protocol
- anything else that may of importance to the parents
The mediator will consult with the parents and the children and explore all elements of family life and assist the parents in coming to an agreement that all members of the family can live with.
It is extremely important that children have frequent contact with both parents, and a parenting plan will assist with such contact running smoothly and create a sense of stability and consistency for the children.
As the children grow up their needs will change and therefore a parenting plan can be reviewed and adapted accordingly.
In high conflict divorces it is usually advisable to register the Parenting Plan with the Family Advocate and to make it an order of court. A breach of the plan would then be seen as contempt of court. Having said that, most parents diligently comply with the terms of the parenting plan as they themselves have made the decisions contained in the plan.
Contact us today to have your parenting plan drafted and create a stress free environment for your family.