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Who Enforces the Parenting Plan?

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Who Enforces the Parenting Plan?

Who Enforces the Parenting Plan? by Melissa Burns{3:42 minutes to read} In my blog post Child-Centered Parenting Plans, I discussed several things that my clients address as they come up with a plan for raising their children in separate households. One of the things we focus on is a parenting schedule, particularly if the children are younger. This includes a “regular” schedule and a “special events” schedule.

The regular schedule is for days and weeks where the family’s schedules are consistent: work, school, extracurricular activities, etc. It outlines when each parent will spend time with the children, and what their responsibilities are during this time:

  • Taking the children to scheduled activities
  • Childcare arrangements, if necessary
  • Routines that parents agree are important
  • School vacations, during the school year, and summer

The special events schedule usually supersedes the regular schedule and outlines how and when the parents will deviate from the regular schedule. Parents determine what events are considered “special.” They may include:

  • Children’s birthdays
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
  • Parents’ birthdays
  • Holidays
  • Family vacations
  • Other special occasions

Couples have a lot of flexibility to design a parenting schedule that works for each of them. The schedule provides clear expectations that allow parents to plan for their time with and without their children.

So who enforces the parenting plan? That would be you, the parents. There is no one else who is going to check; no one is going to go to the scheduled meeting place and verify that the parents are both there promptly as was agreed.

Sometimes, people can get too caught up in the schedule, specifically when the children go from one parent to the other. This transition is difficult for everyone, especially in the beginning. A common question people ask is, “What if we agree to exchange the children at 6:00 and it becomes 6:30? Can we deviate from the agreement?

The parenting plan schedule offers guidelines and is what will be enforced if a conflict results from a deviation. If exact times are difficult due to work or activity schedules, it may be helpful for some parents to agree to approximate times. Instead of 6:00, they can agree that the children will be exchanged at approximately 6:00 and can coordinate the meeting time each week based on how the day is going.

Of course, in the event that one person does not uphold their end of the agreement, parents can go to court to address this. However, courts are usually reluctant to interfere with disagreements over a 30-minute discrepancy. I always recommend that my clients return to mediation rather than go to court, if parts of their agreement become difficult to abide by.

Parenting plans change and evolve as children grow, so agreements should too. If having flexibility in the agreement does not work, then agreements can always be revisited and updated as needed.

How flexible is your parenting plan? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Melissa Burns

16 Pearl St., Suite 201
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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2017-01-30T11:33:43+00:00 By |Children & Divorce, Melissa Burns|

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