It can be stressful going through a divorce when you have children. There are so many things to consider, it can be hard to know where to start.
If you have children under the age of 18 and are getting divorced in Washington state, you will need a parenting plan. You can think of a parenting plan as a road map: It should outline where your children will live and how you and the other parent will make important decisions regarding the child. A parenting plan can also include important details unique to your family situation, such as special holidays you celebrate and any safeguards that should be in place to protect your children.
During divorce proceedings, you and the other parent can agree to a temporary Parenting plan or you can ask the court to order it. a temporary The parenting plan ends when a last A parenting plan is drawn up in your divorce case. a last The parenting plan is intended to last until your child reaches 18 years of age. Depending on the age of your children, you may have to live with the ultimate parenting plan for many years.
Parents sometimes assume that the final parenting plan can be easily changed later as your children get older, but that’s not necessarily the case. Absent agreement or some special exception, there is a strong presumption under the law that it is in the best interest of the children not to change (‘modify’) the final parenting plans. With this in mind, it is important to think about issues that may arise in the future before finalizing the final parenting plan. Here are a few to consider:
- How will you communicate with your children when they are at the other parent’s home?. When your child is young, it may be easy to overlook this issue since communication may be limited due to your child’s age. But as your child gets older, you may want to make a video call or know that they can call you when they’re at the other parent’s house. If communication parameters are not already made clear in your parenting plan, this may become an issue that causes conflict between you and the other parent over time. It’s best to know this before finalizing your parenting plan so everyone is on the same page.
- How will you and the other parent communicate? Another type of communication to consider in a parenting plan is how you and the other parent communicate about issues related to the child. Some co-parents are comfortable using phone calls and text messages, but it can be easy to miss phone calls or find out if the other parent has received your message. Co-parent apps are available for this purpose that can be downloaded to your phone to help you keep track of your communications with the other parent. But if you and the other parent don’t agree on how to communicate before signing the final parenting plan, you may be stuck receiving whatever communication format the other parent wants to use.
- Share updated contact information. By law, there are very specific times when one parent must provide their new address and contact information to the other parent. Otherwise, one parent is not required to provide updated contact information to the other parent. As long as there are no safety issues to consider regarding the other parent knowing your contact information, it is a good idea to make it clear at the final parenting station that one parent will update the other with their address, email address, and phone number as they change.
- The very specific details of parenting can be a recipe for disaster. Some parents assume that if a detailed parenting plan is good, then a very detailed parenting plan must be better. There is no doubt that details are essential to the breeding plan; For example, you must state the time the transfer will take place between homes and the parent who will be transporting the children. These kinds of details set everyone up for success. On the other hand, if you start including specifics about when your child should get their hair cut or who will bake the birthday cake, it can lead to frustration and unnecessary conflict in the future. These kinds of details are best left out.