If you are going through a divorce and have children, one the most significant decisions you will need to make involves how you and your ex-spouse will continue to parent together. While the concept of “together” may seem in conflict with the fact that you are separating, raising your children is a top priority. You and your spouse stand in the best position to determine what is right for your family after divorce.
A parenting agreement is a well-written plan that provides a detailed outline of how you and your ex-spouse will share time and decision making when it comes to your children. A parenting agreement can be beneficial in creating a successful post-divorce relationship as it helps set clear expectations, which may in turn reduce conflict. The process of drafting an agreement allows you and your future ex-spouse to consider the issues that may arise during your children’s lives and how you may want to handle each situation.
Among the topics you’ll want to address when drafting your plan are education, medical care, religious upbringing, holiday visitation, extra-curricular activity expenses and the custody and visitation schedule.
A knowledgeable family law attorney can assist you in crafting a parenting plan and walk you through various options, discussing what approaches will best serve your family both during separation and going forward after divorce. If one or both parties are represented, the attorney, or attorneys of the parties, can draft a Separation Agreement or Consent Order formalizing the terms of any agreed upon parenting plan. A parenting plan may also be crafted during litigation with the assistance of court-appointed mediators or evaluators, through the Harford County Office of Family Court Services or the Baltimore County Family Division Family Support Services for example, and those plans can be vetted and negotiated by the parties with the assistance of their attorneys prior to being reduced to or incorporated into a Court Order.
Once you have come up with an agreement, it is a good idea to make it a part of your divorce file and have the plan entered as a court order. After a judge approves the parenting plan it becomes enforceable, meaning that if either party does not comply with the terms, the other person can return to court and ask for enforcement of the agreement.
Creating a parenting plan may be a good option for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Working together for the betterment of your children may prove to be easier than expected and the outcome may be what is truly best for your family by eliminating potential conflicts in the future.
If you have questions about creating or enforcing a parenting plan, please contact the attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier, P.A.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.