One of the things we’re most passionate about at Pingel Family Law is finding unique and creative solutions for clients to meet their family’s individual needs. Often “cookie cutter” parenting plans, schedules and other things do not meet the individual needs of your family. We are honored to look at each family we serve and bring unique and creative problem-solving solutions to your table, including negotiating your agreement through mediation or offering the court some unique solutions and options through a trial.
Clients often ask about what types of creative solutions we are able to find. The good news is that with over twenty years’ of experience, we have seen many parenting plans and provisions that work well and bring success to the family post-separation or divorce, as well as being able to see and even foresee future problems and issues. The best lawyers prepare clients for likely future issues or concerns and try to plan and negotiate for them to avoid future problems and conflicts. Future conflict planned for is an avoided problem down the road.
What are Some of the Unique Parenting Plan Solutions we Have Helped Clients Achieve in the Last Few Months?
There are as many creative parenting plan solutions as there are different families with different needs. As a client going through a divorce process, you should not accept a pre-canned parenting plan where a draft or sample document is used to try to meet the needs of every family. Often these types of plans include check boxes or fill-in-the-blanks with a complete lack of creative solutions. One of the saddest things I occasionally see is a client who consults with our office about changing the parenting plan. I will sometimes learn that the client “won” and the court ordered the parenting plan that he or she- through their lawyer- requested, however, the client failed to communicate and coordinate with his or her lawyer to such an extent that the lawyer prepared and offered into evidence a parenting plan that was not consistent with the client’s desires or the needs of the family and the children involved. A parenting plan- the future of your parenting and relationship with your children- is too important to have a lack of careful and creative, imaginative thought, in consideration for the needs of your family.
Here are some great parenting plan provisions to think about as you are negotiating a permanent/long-term plan:
- No permanent body modifications until age 16 without both parents’ consent (body piercings, tattoos, plastic surgery, etc.);
- Best practices for car seat usage with little ones, i.e. that the maximum height and weight limits are reached before the next size seat is used and the car seat is appropriately strapped and faced the correct way;
- That the parents maintain a joint life insurance policy on the child or policies on one another to replace lost income/child support/savings for college in the event of one of the parents’ untimely passing;
- Each parent contribute a certain set amount into a college fund or 529 college savings plan;
- A decision about whether the children will obtain passports, will experience international travel and who will hold the children’s passports when not being utilized;
- What expenses will be shared, agreed upon, and what qualifies as an extraordinary expense, including such things as class rings, year books, SAT costs, tutoring, sports equipment and fees, camps, school clothes, presents for other children when your child is invited to a party, among other things;
- If you are a breastfeeding mother, a reasonable plan to allow you to continue until the planned cessation (until weaning or age two per the world health organization);
- Whether corporal punishment, grounding or other types of punishments are permitted or not permitted;
- When your child gets a phone, who should be able to review the records, should find my iphone or other tracking be permitted, should both parents be able to access it;
- Should out of country travel be limited to countries which are signers on the Hague International Treaty on the Abduction of Children, to ensure that there is a remedy to return the children if a parent takes them and refuses to return them;
- Should you use a parental communication app or portal or shared calendar;
- How should cohabitation with future significant others be handled;
- How should religious beliefs and practices be handled;
- Any future trust/will or inheritance considerations for the children, including access to or management of trust or custodial funds if anticipated;
- How a vehicle will be obtained for a child when the time is right, as well as how car maintenance, gas and insurance expenses will be covered and under what circumstances a child’s privilege to drive or access to use of the vehicle will be removed, as well as if the cost of the increase in car insurance for the custodial parent’s policy is something that should be covered or shared;
- That a parent has to be current on child support payments in order to receive the privilege of claiming one or more children as federal, state and/or local dependency deductions;
As you can see from the representative list above, there are many decisions that face parents at some point in their children’s childhood. By planning ahead for possible future problems, if you feel they are relevant to your family’s needs and situations, you can potentially eliminate years of problems, disagreements and frustration/heart ache. Put the knowledge, skills and creativity of Pingel Family Law to work for your family by scheduling a consultation with us today. Call (816) 208-8130.