Practical steps to help you create a workable parenting plan with your child’s other parent.
To successfully negotiate with the other parent, or to work well with any professional, you will want to collect and review all relevant documents. These include:
- court documents you have filed or received, such as a "summons," "petition," "complaint," "response," "answer," "declaration" or "affidavit"
- correspondence from an attorney, counselor, mediator or court official regarding a separation, divorce, paternity, child support, custody or visitation
- court orders regarding a legal separation, divorce, paternity declaration or award of custody
- previously mediated, arbitrated or negotiated agreements between you and the other parent
- documents dissolving your religious marriage, or describing your marital status and your options according to your religious denomination, and
- reports, letters or evaluations from school officials, counselors, therapists or others who have an insight into your children.
Carefully read the documents you gather. If you need help in finding or understanding any of them, an attorney, court clerk, paralegal, marriage counselor, mediator, member of the clergy or other professional might be useful.
You won’t necessarily need all of these documents to develop a parenting plan. Nevertheless, having them can help expedite matters, especially if you are going through a legal separation or divorce. For example, if you or the other parent have already initiated a court proceeding, you may have a deadline for submitting your parenting agreement. If you begin negotiations and they seem to be going well, you will probably want to ask the court for an extension of time (called a "continuance") to let your negotiations continue. In short, you need to know where you stand right now so you can take all necessary steps to finalize your agreement, assure your rights and satisfy all legal requirements.