Often parents worry about how much input they will have in their children’s lives after a divorce. A detailed parenting plan is required by the state of Georgia for all divorcing or separating parents and never married parents seeking legitimation. It is a plan for who will care for the children each day of their lives until they are eighteen years old. It outlines who will drive them to school, buy their clothes, provide food, housing, and how decisions for their lives will be made, etc. Parents can customize the plan to fit their family, their children, and their life style. If parents do not make a custom plan, the judge will assign a plan that may or may not fit your family.
In mediation, parents can develop a current parenting plan as well as extend the plan into the future as the children’s needs change. The ideal Parenting Plan prevents a return to court for modification. Parents have hopes and dreams for their children. A mediator can help parents turn those dreams into reality by planning for their children’s futures.
Continuity of the family helps children to have a sense of security. If a child knows he can count on seeing Mom/Dad at specific days and times he can be confident that Mom/Dad will care for him. Young children especially need the comfort of routine. Anxiety is lessened if a child knows what to expect.
Major areas of decision making are addressed in the Parenting Plan. Ideally, both parents will discuss all major decisions and come to an agreement. However, when agreement seems impossible, you will need to assign a final decision maker. The areas of decision-making include education, religion, non-emergency medical care, and extra-curricular activities. A mediator can help you decide how to select the tie breakers for each area.
The Parenting Plan is not cast in stone. Parents can spend time with their children and make decisions outside of the Parenting Plan, if they can agree. If the parents cannot agree, the parenting plan is the default position. A mediator, as a neutral third party, can help the parents construct a plan that is durable, flexible and a custom fit for their family.