The majority of parents won’t hesitate to speak up if their children are at risk when it comes to spending time with the other parent. But what constitutes a need for requesting a step-up parenting plan for your children?
A step-up parenting plan is an agreement between the biological parents that evolves over time based on child development or safety while the primary custodial parent provides stability within their home. The plan eases the child(ren) to gradually spend more time with the non-custodial parent they don't know well, are too young to spend overnights with, or there has been a change in safety.
With the family court being a toss-up at times, advice is slim when it comes to a healthy parenting plan that fully protects the emotional and psychological well-being of the children. However, if you believe it is in your child’s best interest to request a step-up plan due to an unstable co-parent or for other reasons, let your lawyer or the judge know your concerns with reasonable cause and documented evidence.
Here Are 5 Reasons You May Need A Step-up Plan:
1. Age of Children
If your child(ren) is an infant or toddler, sometimes it can be best suited to stay in the family home and have visitation with the non-custodial parent during limited hours. This allows the child who may be breastfeeding or need stability for sleeping an adjustment period to grow developmentally before having to adjust to two homes.
2. Parent Recovering From An Addiction
When a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse this creates an unsafe and unstable environment for children to be raised in. Most children who are raised in homes with drugs or alcohol usage often end up emotionally or physically neglected and rejected which impacts their psychological health and relationships down the road.
Parents who have chosen to get sober and become a healthy parent know that their addiction recovery can be a lifelong process. Generally, a recovering parent will need to show stability through drug tests, treatment plans, or mental health services in order to prove sobriety and stability.
3. Neurological Diagnosis
A parent who has a neurological diagnosis such as Autism, brain trauma, or Aspergers can hinder effective decision-making for the child’s care. Most of the limited decision-making is around medical, social development, education, and essential care due to their inability to make critical decisions on the spot or regulate emotional reactions.
Neurological diagnosis also presents other concerns such as understanding a child’s emotions and providing unconditional warmth and love when engaging in parent-child interactions. This can impact the child to develop poor social skills or attachment issues in their relationships.
4. Has Been Convicted of Abuse
Domestic violence cases or coercively controlling co-parents can prove to be unhealthy to parent their children. They typically have uncontrollable anger which hinders their ability to effectively create safety for children and support the children’s needs. In these types of situations, we recommend anger management, parenting courses or parent coaching to learn how to better cope with emotional expression and be a healthy parent for the children.
5. Estranged Parent
If your co-parent left for a period of time after the divorce, then they reappear out of thin air and decide they want to be a part of the children’s lives. This can be disruptive and scary for a child to re-engage immediately when there has been no contact for a significant period of time. Going through a reunification process can be helpful, as well as slowly adjusting the parenting time so the child and parent can rebuild their relationship.
Here Are The Benefits of A Step-up Plan:
Eases the child into spending time with the non-custodial parent so it's less stressful
Gives the non-custodial parent and the child time to develop a healthy relationship
Ensures the non-custodial parent is fit to care for the child
Eliminates the need to return to court to update the parenting plan as the child ages
If you need assistance in creating a parenting plan, please feel free to reach out and set-up a discovery call.