If you’re divorcing a high-conflict personality, then you’re going to need an ironclad parenting plan. Somewhere along the way in family court parenting plans became vague and failed to protect the children. They are flooded with loopholes and vague wording allowing the high-conflict co-parent to manipulate to their advantage without considering what is in the best interest of the child — a major red flag.
And, as long as the system continues to be lackadaisical in the parenting plans or fails to consider psychology and child development when making them, more children are in danger of being taken advantage of.
In mediation, we make sure your children come first and foremost and are well-equipped to navigate the high-conflict personality.
Here are the top provisions left out of parenting plans when parents come to us and want to update their parenting plans:
1. Travel Provisions
Notification requirements: Specify how much advance notice each parent must provide when planning to travel with the child, including details about the destination, dates, and contact information.
Passport and consent: Outline requirements regarding obtaining passports for the child, including the need for both parents' consent and any necessary procedures for obtaining the required documents.
Length of vacations: Each parent is usually allowed two 7-day vacations consecutively or non-consecutively during their parenting time. The maximum amount of a time a child may go without seeing the other parent is 14 days.
International travel: If international travel is involved, additional provisions may be necessary, such as requiring written consent from the other parent, providing copies of travel itineraries, and ensuring compliance with any applicable legal requirements.
Determine what age the children can travel on a plane without a parental guardian.
2. Breach of Parenting Plan
Dispute resolution: Consider including provisions for resolving communication-related disputes or misunderstandings, such as utilizing mediation or seeking professional assistance to address conflicts that may arise from miscommunication or non-compliance with communication guidelines.
Violations: Should either party knowingly violate the parenting plan in such that the other parent is required to take the violating parent to court, the violating parent shall pay the non-violating parent’s legal and court fees.
Major Life Changes: Should either parent experience major lifestyle changes, such as moving or marriage, both parties agree to update the parenting plan.
3. Financial Guidelines
Medical expenses: This will clearly need to outline how bills will be split based on percentages alone with the responsible party for medical and dental insurance.
Extracurricular activities and camps: They will be financially divided between the parents. If one parent is financially abusive then a provision on how much each parent is responsible for each season or year can be added to the plan.
Receipts and documentation: Establish guidelines for providing receipts or documentation when requesting reimbursement for shared expenses, ensuring transparency and accountability.
Taxes: Identify who will be claiming the children each year on their tax returns
Child Support: Outline the child support arrangement, including the amount, frequency, and method of payment, in accordance with applicable laws and guidelines.
4. New Partner Roles
Introducing Timeline: It is advised both parents agree that neither party should introduce the child to future romantic partners until they have been committed and monogamous consecutively for at least six months, and the other party shall have the opportunity to meet the new partner prior to introducing to the child.
Roles: New partners will not have a disciplinary role in the child’s life. They will be allowed to help out in terms of care if necessary.
Stepparents are not allowed to be referred to as “Mom” or “Dad,” only biological parents.
5. Parentification and Safety
Exposure to Violence or Abuse: If there are any safety concerns, such as a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, neglect, or other issues that may endanger the child's well-being, these should be addressed appropriately in the parenting plan. Failing to address safety concerns can put the child at risk.
Parentification Provisions: Both parents should agree not to expose the child to inappropriate behavior or dangerous material, such as but not limited to violence, abuse of any kind, pornography, use of drugs, and/or excessive alcohol usage, and adult-rated movies.
Emotional Parentification: The child will not be used as an emotional support system and if in need of support will seek outside professional resources.
Safety: The age children can be left home alone without a caregiver or sitter.
6. Communication between parents and children
Methods of communication: Specify the acceptable methods of communication between parents, such as phone calls, email, or a designated co-parenting app. It can be helpful to prioritize methods that allow for documentation and easy reference, especially in case of any disputes or misunderstandings.
Frequency and duration: Establish guidelines regarding the frequency and duration of communication between the parents. For example, you may specify daily or weekly check-ins for decision-making. You may also establish response timeframes to make sure the kids' needs are met.
Access to school and medical information: Include provisions that grant both parents access to important documents and information related to the child's education, medical records, and healthcare appointments. Specify the process for sharing this information and any necessary consent forms required by schools or healthcare providers.
Emergency situations: Address how communication should be handled in emergency situations involving the child. Define what constitutes an emergency and establish protocols for immediate notification and decision-making between the parents.
Communication with the children: Determine guidelines for communication between each parent and the child, especially when the child is in the other parent's care. Ensure that both parents have reasonable and appropriate access to the child via phone calls, video chats, or other agreed-upon means.
7. Inability To Parent
Evaluation and treatment: If there are concerns about drug or alcohol abuse, mental health issues, or physical impairments, it may be appropriate to include provisions that require the affected parent to undergo an evaluation by a qualified professional. This evaluation can help determine the extent of the issue and guide appropriate treatment or interventions.
Compliance with treatment: Specify that the parent must comply with any recommended treatment, counseling, therapy, or rehabilitation programs to address their condition. This may include attending substance abuse programs, therapy sessions, or taking prescribed medications as directed.
Supervised visitation: If necessary, consider including provisions for supervised visitation when the parent's condition poses a risk to the child's safety or well-being. Supervised visitation allows the child to maintain a relationship with the parent while ensuring their safety through the presence of a neutral third party or a professional supervisor.
Progress and review: Establish a mechanism for monitoring the progress of the affected parent's treatment or rehabilitation. This may include periodic review hearings or reports from the treating professionals to assess their ability to resume unsupervised parenting responsibilities.
Safety precautions: If there are specific safety concerns related to the parent's condition, outline any necessary safety precautions to protect the child. This may include restrictions on the parent's access to certain environments, limitations on overnight visits, or supervised exchanges to minimize potential risks.
Modification of parenting time: Depending on the severity of the condition and its impact on parenting abilities, consider provisions that allow for modifications to parenting time or custody arrangements. This may involve temporarily reducing the parent's parenting time or gradually reintroducing unsupervised visits as they demonstrate stability and improvement.
Relapse or deterioration: Address the possibility of relapse or deterioration of the parent's condition. Specify the steps to be taken if the parent fails to maintain their treatment or experiences a setback, such as seeking immediate reassessment, adjusting parenting time, or revisiting the need for supervised visitation.
Professional consultation: It may be beneficial to include a provision that allows either parent to consult with relevant professionals, such as therapists, counselors, or medical experts, to assess the impact of the other parent's condition on the child's well-being.
Do you and your co-parent need a parenting plan that is specifically created by someone who understands child development and has a background in family psychology? Or would you like to update your parenting plan? Then you are in the right place. Click the link here to sign up for a discovery call so we can get started on creating a plan that brings you and your children freedom and peace.