Your parenting plan plays an invaluable role in your custody arrangement, determining how you and your co-parent interact with one another and help your child achieve their goals.
The right parenting plan can lay the foundations for a healthy co-parenting relationship that enables your child to thrive. Conversely, a poor parenting plan can cause a multitude of problems to erupt within the family dynamic. Today, we're covering things you should include in your parenting plan to help you and your co-parent do what's best for your child.
Including Clauses to Avoid the "Good Cop, Bad Cop" Co-Parenting Dynamic
Many parents make their parenting plans fairly bare-bones, only covering the mandatory elements required by the court (like which days the child spends with which parent, which parent is custodial and which is noncustodial, etc.). In doing so, they miss out on an opportunity to lay the foundation for a better co-parenting dynamic.
Parenting plans are legally binding contracts, which makes them powerful tools for co-parents. One of the biggest risks in any co-parenting situation is ending up with a "good cop, bad cop" dynamic where one parent is unfairly demonized, or your child feels like they have to "choose" between their parents.
Consider including clauses in your parenting plan that prevent this dynamic from developing. For example, you may want to have a clause specifying that neither parent can disparage the other in front of the child without good reason. That can help avoid situations where your child feels like they have to agree with one parent over the other in a dispute, or where one parent attempts to influence the child to make them dislike the other parent more.
Incorporate Behavioral & Academic Boundaries into Your Plan
Your child spends the majority of their time at school or at home. To facilitate a stable scholastic and home experience for your child, you and your co-parent should agree on consistent behavioral and academic boundaries for your child.
Some things you should discuss include:
- How you will reward your child for performing well at school;
- What kind of discipline is acceptable at home;
- How you will handle it if your child doesn't perform as expected at school or acts out;
- How you want to handle social media use at home (what platforms your child is allowed to interact with, how long they can engage with media like videogames, etc.);
- What kind of behavior is acceptable in home and at school;
- What penalties you'll enforce if your child violates those behavioral boundaries.
If you and your co-parent enforce the exact same boundaries, it will help your child maintain a stable life and reduce conflict in the co-parenting dynamic.
However, behavioral and academic expectations shouldn't only extend to the child. Parents should also hold themselves accountable. To that end, you should both agree on:
- What forms of discipline are acceptable;
- How you can encourage your child to perform better out of love instead of shaming them for poor performance;
- How the parents will handle school events like parent-teacher conferences;
- How the parents are allowed to behave on social media, especially with regards to the children (what kind of pictures they can post with the kids, for example);
- How the parents should conduct themselves at home around their child (alcohol consumption, new partners, etc.).
Remember, your parenting plan doesn't only exist to impose restrictions on your child. It's a tool to help keep all parties accountable and ensure that all parties conduct themselves in a way that helps the child achieve their goals and pursue their best interests.
At Conti Moore Law, PLLC, we understand the need for a refined approach when it comes to child custody arrangements. We can help you and your co-parent work together to develop a mutually beneficial parenting plan that helps your child(ren) thrive.
To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our firm, contact us online or via phone at (407) 315-2006.