Seattle, WA family law attorney Douglas Becker talks about the steps to creating an effective parenting plan for both the parents and the child/children.
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The way to develop a parenting plan, obviously, is to look at what the needs of the children are and that’s what the court’s gonna focus on. It’s awfully easy for the two adults to be looking at what suits their schedules and their lifestyle and simply fit the kids into it, into that particular schedule. So you have to remind the parents that this is about the kids, let’s start there and figure out how you’re gonna fit your schedule around what their needs are.
Parenting plans have gotten very complex which people are sometimes unhappy about but it’s proven to be necessary to avoid conflicts in the future. So in dealing with a parenting plan, you’re going through all the holidays with great specificity, you’re dealing with the joint decision making. Some places it’s called joint legal custody but here we just call it joint decision making over education and medical treatment and things like that and that has to all be gone through.
We set up a process for dispute resolution. What happens if people have a disagreement about how summer is gonna be split up? They need to have someplace to go other than court, or at least before court, to try to resolve it amicably either by mediation or, if necessary, in arbitration. So you’re putting all of those things together with the schedules and what’s gonna meet the children’s needs. Usually you can get to the point where everybody agrees on that because there’s no – it’s not like money, there’s not a formula, there’s not a win-lose formula to it. As long as they’re focused on the needs of the children we can get the job done as far as a parenting plan even though it’s complex.