When there are challenges around communication while co-parenting after divorce or separation, a parenting plan, either court ordered or by parental agreement, can structure the ways in which co-parents will communicate about their child. Including communication terms in a parenting plan can help to deescalate conflict, decrease misunderstandings, ensure that both parents have access to vital information, and insulate children from exposure to adult conflict.
When the parties can’t come to an agreement, a child custody evaluation by a mental health professional can help judges by giving an assessment of the family, each parent’s capacity to parent, and the children’s needs and capabilities. Whether the motion for the evaluation is made by the judge or one of the parents, here are some important considerations for you and your client to discuss.
Although you can’t predict what will happen in custody cases, you should draft standard language in custody agreements and court orders that will address common problems that arise in joint legal and physical custody situations. Doing so will help align parental expectations and minimize conflict for children.
A court-ordered parenting plan governs how parents will share the “care, custody and management of their child,” a fundamental liberty interest recognized by the United States Supreme Court. This liberty interest encompasses parents’ interests in religious freedom and their right to teach and share their religious beliefs and practices with their children. What happens when each parent wants their child to share very different religious and cultural traditions?