Creating a parenting plan runs smoother with communication

In the state of Missouri parents with minor children who are going through a divorce must create a proposed parenting plan. This plan should include information related to child custody and visitation schedules, as well as a breakdown of decision-making rights and responsibilities, and how expenses for such things as child care and education will be paid.

And while a couple in a heated divorce battle may have difficulty agreeing on a parenting plan, Mary Pat Bruntrager Schroeder, an associate judge for St. Louis County, advises that it’s better for parents to communicate and come to some sort of agreement, instead of leaving it up to the courts. Her reasoning is that it’s better for each parent to decide how to raise the child, rather than let a judge make the decisions.

Of course, even with a good parenting plan that both agree on problems may still arise, with the Schroeder reporting an uptick in plans falling apart when the school year starts. Some of the issues that may arise during this time include questions related to if private school is still affordable and which parent it’s best to live with for future financial aid qualifications.

And while it’s important for parents to come together to create the official parenting plan, it’s also good if parents can continue to communicate in situations where that plan starts to fall apart.

“A rotten spouse doesn’t necessarily equal a rotten parent,” Schroeder is quick to point about when talking about why it’s advisable to keep open lines of communication.

Of course, even if both parents can talk and come to an informal parenting plan agreement, it’s important to keep in mind that the plan is not enforceable by the courts until it is actually signed by a judge. This means leading up to that signature, one parent may decide to go back on previously agreed upon terms.

In theses situations — or even just when it comes to creating the original proposed plan — a legal representative could be of great assistance in looking out for your parenting rights and making sure that the agreement has your child’s best interests in mind.

Source:, “Judge says parents must talk before, even more after, divorce,” Janice Denham, Aug. 30, 2011

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