Divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can go through. It isn’t just complicated because of the financial aspect, but when dealing with children, sensitivity and understanding is required. However, not all ex-spouses understand the kind of stress children endure in a divorce. Consequently, parents need to collaborate to ensure these stress levels are kept as low as possible.
The Indiana judicial system tries to protect a child’s welfare following a divorce. One way it does this is by ensuring that the child has meaningful and ongoing contact with both parents through a parenting plan. Both parents are required to develop a workable and compliant parenting plan, or they need to get a legal professional who will create it.
Co-parenting is, however, more than having a schedule. Sometimes parents may forget to consider the best interests of a child. We look at ways you can establish an effective co-parenting plan and create a safe and healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse.
Why Do I Need a Comprehensive Parenting Plan?
Conventionally, parenting plans have been all about child custody and who will have the legal authority over the child. Unfortunately, this does very little to support a child, especially in the period following divorce.
Without a healthy co-parenting relationship, conflict among the parents is inevitable. And studies have revealed that the most damaging aspect of a divorce for a child is parents’ conflict. With a comprehensive and detailed parenting plan, future battles are avoided, and minor disagreements cannot escalate into disputes.
Can the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines Help Create a Successful Plan?
The state of Indiana has provided parents with a model for setting up a parenting plan. You can use these guidelines to create a successful parenting plan as they apply to “normal” families.
These Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines contain specific parenting schedules as well as other detailed requirements, such as where the non-custodial parent can pick up the child, etc. You can also modify the plan to meet your child’s special needs – but you must do this by writing to the court with the help of your Lake County child custody attorney. Your co-parenting plan will likely be accepted in court if you use these guidelines.
What Are the Essentials of an Effective Co-Parenting Plan in Indiana?
Parents can often foresee issues that can potentially arise in the future. Having a documented co-parenting plan with explicit agreements that the parents have agreed upon is the best way to deal with these anticipated issues.
An effective parenting plan needs to be as comprehensive as possible. The plan is tailored to fit each family’s unique features. The parents should also discuss exceptions such as summer planning, family traditions, and birthdays, among others. They should decide who will hold the passports and who will keep in contact with schools or doctors.
Your plan can include things like school activities, religious education, chores, discipline, rules at home, and decisions about sleepovers, driving and parties. The plan should make it clear which parent is ‘on duty’ and which one is ‘off duty’ at specific times and agree on how to communicate when a parent is off duty.
Most especially, the plan should make provisions for boundaries, privacy, and how information should be shared.
Turn to a Therapist
One way to start off would be to involve a therapist. Some parents use a therapist’s services to learn more about child development and any divorce studies involving children. Information from a therapist can help parents make informed decisions regarding what should be included in the parenting plan.
Among some of the many topics in a parenting plan, dealing with new relationships, and how and when the children should be informed of them, is an important addition. Although it is a volatile topic, parents need to discuss how to go about it when it eventually happens.
Attend Parenting Classes
Many local courts will require you to attend a parenting class that caters to the child’s needs by ensuring the parents have a healthy relationship post-divorce. A court might require parents to attend an in-person class and then ask that they file the certificate of completion with the court.
Each county in Indiana may have its own requirements. For instance, parents in Hamilton County must attend the “Children Cope with Divorce” parenting workshop within 60 days of the start of the divorce and a parent could be held in contempt of court if he or she fails to complete this class.
Several online programs offer parenting tools that help co-parents keep their kids as the focus. An example of such programs is Up to Parents, which is free of charge – however, it’s not required by law.
How Conflict Will Be Resolved
An effective co-parenting plan should include what the parents will do if they fail to resolve a future disagreement. For example, they could agree that either of them can seek a third party’s help, such as a mediator, and the other party shouldn’t decline the invite.
A Legal Counselor to Help with Your Family Needs
A well-crafted co-parenting plan with the involvement of both parents will help stabilize your kid’s lives after a divorce. An effective plan that minimizes parental conflict is one of the tools you can use to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship. Your child needs this healthy relationship to cope and heal.
If you wish to create or modify a co-parenting plan, or litigate any child custody issue, talk to a Merrillville child custody lawyer at The Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD. Our family law attorney will also help you address everyday parenting issues.
Our law firm serves clients throughout Lake County and Porter County in Northwest Indiana. To speak with attorney Julie R. Glade, please call (219) 736-0456 or inquire online.