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Dos and don'ts of creating a solid parenting plan

Parents who are divorced or broken up should expect to discuss child custody matters. Often, this means figuring out a way to share legal decision-making authority and parenting, though sometimes one parent retains sole custody.

If you share custody (or plan to share custody), then you will have a parenting plan in place to set guidelines, establish schedules and provide direction to parents. In order to create a plan that is helpful and solid, there are some things Arizona parents should do and things they should avoid.

When creating a parenting plan, parents should:

  • Try to work together through mediation
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Consider your child's age and needs
  • Be reasonable
  • Include only clauses that courts can enforce
  • Discuss and set rules for resolving parenting disputes in the plan
  • Stay focused on what is in the best interests of the child
  • Remember that a plan can be modified if necessary

When creating a parenting plan, parents should avoid:

  • Setting unrealistic expectations
  • Prioritizing their needs ahead of the child's needs
  • Using overly complicated words and directions
  • Leaving things open to interpretation
  • Making children take sides on certain issues
  • Creating an informal, unenforceable plan
  • Making rules that will adversely affect the child
  • Including clauses that are unnecessary or likely to cause conflict

Creating a parenting plan can undoubtedly be a challenge, especially when parents don't agree on every aspect, but these tips and the guidance of an experienced attorney can help parents navigate this process more easily.

Ultimately, parents should remember that their parenting plan will be their guide and decision-maker when it comes to child-related issues. As such, it should be tailored to each family's needs and crafted thoughtfully and with the help of a legal representative.

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