Title Image: A High Conflict Divorce Parenting Plan Can Save Your Sanity
Title Image: A High Conflict Divorce Parenting Plan Can Save Your Sanity

A high conflict divorce parenting plan can truly save your sanity. If you are facing divorce from someone who has a personality disorder or is out to make your life tougher than it needs to be then you need a strong parenting plan.

Having extra parameters lined out for custody exchanges, communication, decision-making, and child support can stop some battles before they even start. Taking the time now to consider how co-parenting with your former spouse may happen will help you live a more peaceful future.

It’s important to think of the needs your children will have in the future and include them in your parenting agreement so that future trips to family court are few and far between.

Difficult Divorce

Has your marriage been full of high-conflict situations? Then most likely you will be facing a high-conflict divorce process with someone who will become a high-conflict co-parent. Doesn’t that sound like a fun future?

Well, don’t despair. You can set up your parenting plan to reduce conflict and settle as many decisions as possible up front so you won’t have to negotiate with someone who suffers from a personality disorder later. The stronger the boundaries you can include in your plan the easier your future may be.

If you are facing high levels of conflict it is important to have a detailed parenting plan with clear boundaries. You need a parenting plan that sets parental responsibilities, decision-making authority, communication guidelines, parenting time including holiday schedules, and other points that can help diminish parental conflict.

Asking other parents who have gone through a high-conflict divorce about their parenting plans can give you insight into what they wish they had included and where they have encountered problems because their plan was not set to their specific situation.

Divorcing couple in attorney's office

You Need a Detailed High Conflict Divorce Parenting Plan

Clearly defined custody arrangements can end ongoing conflicts and allow the children to live in relative peace in each home. A detailed parenting plan can diminish the communication and major decisions to be made with joint custody.

You want to plan for any potential conflicts you foresee with your high-conflict ex. Having clear guidelines in your court orders will reduce the likelihood of a potential custody battle.

Your co-parenting plan should clearly outline where and when you will meet for custody exchanges, who gets each holiday and when, how expenses are handled, communication with the children when they are at the other parent’s house, and how you will make decisions.

If you are working with an attorney you can let them know the difficulties you think you will have with your co-parent and how you want your parenting plan to provide safety for you and your children.

Parenting Time

Most family law attorneys use a generic parenting plan to start. The basic plan is 50/50 custody and includes times and places to meet etc. You can ask to customize any part of the plan. It’s important to make it work for your situation or you may end up back in court to change it later.

Making changes to the plan down the line is not only expensive but extremely stressful and can make a high-conflict parent go into battle mode. The closer you come to the ideal plan for you and your children the better.

A good parenting plan will protect your parenting time and list which parent has each holiday. If you have a personal holiday that is important to you such as your birthday or a day you like to celebrate with your children you can ask that it be written into the plan to protect your time with the children.

Setting up a parenting plan is all part of negotiating the divorce settlement. It’s worthwhile to ask for what you want. The other party can say no but if you don’t ask you will never know how it could have worked out. They may be willing to come to a compromise to get what they want as well.

A couple signing legal papers.

Communication Guidelines

One helpful way to reduce conflict is to have a detailed plan for effective communication in your parenting agreement. Think about how you would like to communicate with your co-parent and include details to protect you from receiving unwanted phone calls or texts. You can agree to only email or a combination of email and text.

If you have endured verbal abuse from your co-parent in the past you may want to emphasize that phone calls are no longer an acceptable way to communicate.

You can even ask that the court dictate all communications go through Our Family Wizard or a similar co-parenting app especially if your co-parent likes to send aggressive text messages to you.

You may have a situation that makes direct communication dangerous. It is wise to include a boundary in your plan so the other parent doesn’t try to force you to communicate in a way that is unsafe or uncomfortable for you later. Having these guidelines in a legal document protects you from an aggressive co-parent who tries to push your boundaries.

Decorative image of a mother and daughter smiling

Decision-Making Responsibilities

Your parenting plan will also cover decision-making responsibilities. Usually, it is written up as 50/50 with mediation or court as a final deciding factor when the parents cannot come to a mutual decision.

This situation can leave you open to a disagreeable co-parent who craves drama over making informed decisions for the children.

If you can change some of the wording to make it easier to get your children medical care and counseling(if needed) that can save you lots of time and money.

You may have no idea that a co-parent will refuse to allow your child to receive orthodontic treatment or a medically necessary surgery but it has happened to many parents. You can be proactive and plan for those situations in the parenting plan.

You can even include how the expenses for a teen child’s driver’s license, vehicle, and car insurance will be handled. Anything regarding the children and your future decisions can be included now to keep the peace later.

Most plans also include a blurb about the children receiving professional help from a counselor or therapist but insist the parents agree. This can allow the other parent to refuse mental health care for your children. If you can receive final decision-making on this item it can make a big difference in the support your children can receive as they transition from a two-parent household to their new home life.

Child Support

Child support is usually calculated according to your state’s standards. You will have the opportunity to share standard expenses such as childcare and medical insurance for the calculation.

It may be possible to include extras into this amount especially if you are the primary parent. If, you homeschool or send your children to a private school that should be covered in child support. If, your children take private lessons or play sports that may be included in child support.

If you have any questions about what is covered be sure to ask. You never know if your attorney has forgotten something or is unaware of certain aspects of your situation. You are your own best advocate in this process.

Decorative image of a woman standing with arms outstretched in triumph

Parallel Parenting

If you already have a parenting plan that isn’t quite working and you don’t want to go back to court for a new one you can try parallel parenting. Even if you are working on your first parenting plan it is a good idea to learn about parallel parenting and work some of the ideas into your new plan. It can save you from lots of stress as you try to live life after divorce.

Once you are divorced you will be parenting on your own for the most part. If you have a strong high conflict divorce parenting plan in place it can make the transition easier and also lessen conflict while you and your co-parent learn to parent your children in a new way.

It is worth the work to set up a customized parenting plan to help you and your children live in peace.

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