Child custody cases in North Carolina don’t always have to go to court. Some parents settle child custody issues by working together in voluntary agreement to create a parenting plan. This plan establishes a schedule for time-sharing and explains both parents’ duties and responsibilities when it comes to raising the child or children.
While carefully-crafted parenting plans can make life easier and more peaceful for both parents and children, creating a good one can be hard work. A successful parenting plan needs to be detailed, thorough, and thoughtful. In this article, we’ll provide five tips for creating a parenting plan that serves your child’s best interests and stands the test of time.
1. Make Sure Your Parenting Plan Is Detailed
Even if you and the other parent have a cordial relationship and you feel like everything is going smoothly, it’s important to make sure your parenting plan discusses the specifics about who the child stays with and when.
Think of your parenting plan as your failsafe. If you and the other parent keep getting along, that’s great, and you can share time with your child based on informal agreements and the child’s wishes. But if disagreements start to come up — and it’s easy for that to happen, even among parents who aren’t divorced or separated — then you’ll know you can fall back to your parenting plan to provide guidance.
2. Plan for Lots of Different Scenarios
If your parenting plan only covers “business as usual” situations, then it won’t help you once the day-to-day roller coaster of real life with children kicks in. It’s important to make sure your parenting plan anticipates lots of different scenarios that can arise.
For example, what happens if the other parent has an important event come up during their parenting time and wants to have someone you don’t know babysit? In that case, you might prefer to have the child back with you until the other parent returns. If your parenting plan doesn’t discuss situations like this, then you won’t have much ground to stand on.
3. Be Ready to Compromise
There’s a well-known saying that goes, “A really good compromise is one that leaves both parties equally unhappy.” This might be a pessimistic way to look at negotiation, but there’s truth to it, too. The core principle of compromise is you have to give up things you want in order to get things that you really want, and that’s true when working with the other parent to create a parenting plan.
When you’re negotiating the details of your parenting plan, remember that this process is about your child’s best interests first and foremost. It’s not about what’s best for you. And keep in mind that most children do best when they’re allowed to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. To get there, you’ll probably have to agree to some things that don’t fit with your ideal picture of your life with your children, but so will the other parent.
As long as you both let your child’s well-being and emotional health take priority over any issues between you, your parenting plan should be able to strike a balance that works for everyone.
4. Give Your Plan Room to Grow
The one thing you can count on with children is that they’re going to change. That’s why a parenting plan that’s too rigid and rests on everything staying the same is destined to fail in the long term.
Rather than try to draw up a plan that will perform the impossible and anticipate how your life and your child’s life will have changed in a few years, it’s fine — and sometimes even ideal — to build re-evaluation into the plan. You can include specific provisions that require you and the other parent to try alternatives before returning to court. This might include choosing a mediator or therapist who can help with transitions and facilitate the conversations that need to happen when updating the plan.
5. Hire a Lawyer to Draft Your Parenting Plan
An experienced family law attorney should know all the details your parenting plan needs to succeed in the long term. Besides their knowledge of the law, your attorney should have plenty of real-world experience with what works and what doesn’t when it comes to drawing up a forward-thinking, flexible, and thorough parenting plan.
You don’t want to end up going to court every six months over disagreements about your plan because it wasn’t designed to last, and working with a lawyer at the beginning of the process is the best way to avoid this. A good lawyer can also move quickly to protect your rights if the other parent refuses to compromise or starts violating the terms of the parenting plan.
Myers Law Firm Can Help With Parenting Plans and Child Custody Issues in North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that child custody cases are difficult for both parents, so we approach every family law case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at negotiating to find constructive compromises, we’re always prepared to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes to serve your child’s best interests.
The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all the family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, property division, and divorce. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.