How To Approach Writing a Parenting Agreement

September 22, 2010 · 1 comment

Many states require not only a custody agreement, but also a Parenting Agreement, created and approved by the parents and the court. Here are some things you should make sure to consider when creating a parenting plan:

Cooperation is Key
While the other parent may no longer be your partner in life, they are still your partner in parenting and raising your children, like it or not. Try to untangle your parenting issues from your couple issues and focus on what is best for the child involved. Remind yourself and the other parent that this is time to focus on the child and showing your commitment to he or she, not working on your own issues.

Get Help From Others
Because a Parenting Agreement is such an important document and is sometimes a legal document, seeking help from others is key. Look to your attorney, family court mediator, law librarian or other expert for guidance and approvals where needed. This is not the time to step out on your own and attempt to create such an important plan for your child. Consult the experts and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Keep it Current
The Agreement you created for your toddler obviously won’t be appropriate for a teenager, but think more specifically than simple ages and grade levels. Children grow and progress, with new things happening all the time. Address changes like residential moves, addition of new siblings or step-siblings, introductions of new spouses or family members and medical changes. Some children may need special education classes or require particular medical treatments. Even something as simple as orthodontic care should be handled in the Parenting Agreement to insure that all parties are on the same page and prepared for the new situation. Don’t be afraid to approach the other parent and suggest an addition or change to the Parenting Agreement when new situations come up.

We’ll be writing more in our series on Parenting Agreements soon. The next installment will include specifics to address in your Agreement.

Does your state require a Parenting Agreement? What approaches have worked for you when creating the document?

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1 Debbie September 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Yes, Missouri requires a parenting plan. The original was constructed with the help of a wonderful mediator, Susan Amato (St. Louis). That was tweaked when custody changed a few years ago. My advice, especially for parents who are having trouble communicating w/o anger, is find a good mediator. It’s worth the money and saves a lot of angst. Then stick to the plan with few waivers.

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