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Parenting Plans - Underlying Concepts

Parents are usually in the best position to understand their children and that is why mediation produces productive parenting plans. Parents can be torn by the tension between what they want and what may be best for each child. It is critical in almost every case that both parents build and maintain healthy relationships with each child.

In a divorce, parties go through the anguish of rebuilding lives, building new families, and other major changes. As parents go through divorce and afterwards, their parenting plan should have some guiding principles for a parenting plan, including:

· Maximize Communication. Parents need not love each other to maintain communication. They need respect and honor. Communication should be child-centered and not involve private areas of each person's new life unless it touches upon the child's life. For example, when a new romantic relationship is to be introduced to a child, the other parent should be advised. If anger or abusive behavior interferes, use email and text messages (and save them). Children should never be used to carry communication between parents; they are not messengers.

· Minimize the Loss to the Child. Divorce usually represents a loss to a child, and can involve uprooting from friends, schools, extended family and community. Even worse is the loss a child might perceive that one parent is abandoning the child. Reducing these changes and perceptions of abandonment are important at least in the initial separation and when the children are younger. Some children, no matter the age, never lose the feelings of abandonment.

· Maximize the Relationship With Each Parent. A goal is the creation of a sense of family where the child feels that he/she has a reasonable and comfortable access to each parent in a new family situation. This can be accomplished when there is time sharing which meets the needs of the child and the availability of the parents.

These are significant points. As a lawyer and mediator, I have seen these concepts ignored to the detriment to a child, such as when one parent, out of revenge or anger, tries to limit the other parent's access to the child. I have seen instances where one parent wants most of the time with the child, overlooking that he/she needs to maintain adult relationship and responsibilities and needs adult time separated from a child. Sadly, I have also seen instances where one parent values a relationship with a child less than moving on to a new life. Let me help you create a healthy parenting plan.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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