Articles Tagged with kids

Parenting plans are often drafted while both parents are single (or on their way to being single). As they negotiate their plan, the parents consider their lives as single parents. They want to discuss how much time they will have with their kids, and what holidays they will not have their kids. One issue that few parents bring up is how to address the other parents’ new significant others. Once they start thinking about it they usually have two concerns: (1) parents often worry about their kids being introduced to the other parent’s significant other too soon, and thus experiencing a revolving door of significant others, or (2) parents worry that the children will now spend all their time with the new significant other, rather than their parent. Here are two ways that some parents choose to address their concerns:

Right of First Refusal: This is a potential way to limit the time the children may spend with the parent’s significant other (or anyone else other than the parent for that matter). This is usually accomplished by including a clause within the parenting plan that requires that if the children are to be with someone other than the parents (or another agreed upon adult) the parent not scheduled to have time with the child shall have the right to choose to have the kids with them, or may refuse that time and the kids may go to someone else of the residential parent’s choice (in the present example, his or her significant other).

Limitations on Introductions: Parents can choose to set limitations within the parenting plan as to when significant others may be introduced to the children. They may say that the parent must have known or dated the person for a certain length of time prior to meeting the kids.

Parenting plans plan the schedule for your child for every day (and even every hour) of the child’s life. Well written parenting plans should reflect the needs and interests of the child and the child’s parents. This includes the religious beliefs of the involved parties. Here are three areas of Washington State parenting plans that may be affected by the parties’ religion(s):

  1. The holiday schedule. This one is pretty obvious. Many religions celebrate (or abstain from celebrating) certain holidays. The parenting plan should reflect this. If both parents celebrate the same holidays, most plans alternate the schedule to have the child with one parent one year, and the other parent the following year. If the parents celebrate different holidays (for example Christmas and Hanukkah) many plans have the child spending the holiday with the parent that celebrates (in the case of Christmas and Hanukkah, the priority would have to go to one holiday each year in case of a conflict).
  2. The other section. Some families choose to add other directives to the parents in the other section. They might choose to include religious dietary choices (like feeding the child vegetarian, participating in fasts, or avoiding certain meats). This section may also include the choice of religion the parents have made for the child and an agreement to take the child to church.
  3. Decision making. The parents may choose to designate (or the court may order) one parent to make religious decisions for the child. This means the designated parent will have the ability to choose the child’s religious involvement.

If you or your child’s other parent is religious, it is important that you advise your family law attorney of this information. The more information you provide your attorney regarding how you plan to raise your child, the better your attorney can draft a parenting plan tailored to your child’s needs.

If you have questions about your parenting plan, or any other family law issue, please contact us today.

For many unmarried parents, the most difficult part of sharing residential time with their child’s other parent is the holidays spent away from their children. While you may not be able to celebrate with trick-or-treating, there are other things you can do to make the Halloween season special. Here are some ideas for celebrating Halloween when you won’t be with your children on the evening of October 31st:

  • Make a special event out of decorating for Halloween. Make a special Halloween-inspired dinner.
  • Take your kids to Great Wolf Lodge, or another place that has a month-long Halloween celebration.
  • If your work offers a Halloween celebration for kids on a day other than the 31st, see if you can arrange (with the child’s other parent) bringing your child to your work-sponsored event.
  • Let your child dress up in their costume on another day in October and bring them trick-or-treating at family members or friends’ homes (warn friends and family in advance so they are prepared).
  • Watch a fun Halloween movie with your kids – costumes optional.
  • Throw a kids Halloween party while you have your child.

While you will probably still miss your kids on October 31st, these ideas can help you and your kids celebrate the season in a fun and special way.

If you have any questions about your parenting plan, holiday schedule, or other family law questions. Please contact us.

On this blog, we’ve previously discussed the ways that a parenting plan can adjust to the needs of children as they grow and change. Parenting plans can also be drafted to fit the needs of the parents. This can include work schedules. Our clients are not all 9-5 employees. Some work nights, some work swing shift, others work schedules that require them to work several days in a row and then take several days off. For unmarried parents with these types of schedules, more conventional parenting plans may not work.

Some people aren’t aware of the ways a parenting plan can be written to fit their life. For example, instead of having the kids every other weekend, plans can include provisions that adjust based on the work schedule of either or both parents (perhaps providing one parent three weekends in a row, then the other two weekends in a row). As another example, families working night or swing shifts might prefer having their residential time with their children start in the morning following their shift instead of in the evening after school.

It is our goal to draft parenting plans that fit our clients’ families. We work to ensure that we know our clients, and how their work schedules might affect their time with their kids. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your parenting plan or other family law issue.

While divorces don’t have to be acrimonious, they do usually complicate things. Things that were once simple and straightforward become more difficult. Kids sporting events are a common example of something that becomes more difficult after divorce. Often, during marriage parents both attend sporting events. They cheer for their kids, get to know other parents, and watch their kids develop as athletes. After divorce, many parents wonder whether they can still enjoy the weekly game. The answer often depends on the parents post-divorce relationship.

In divorced families where the parents have a positive and friendly co-parenting relationship, there is usually no problem with both parents attending the same sporting events. At our firm we’ve even seen families where one former-spouse invites the other out for ice cream to celebrate a win (or recover from a loss).

However, in cases where the parents have not exhibited the ability to maintain their composure when in the same location, it is often best to avoid joint participation in sporting events. While many parents are sad to miss their kids’ game, most agree it is better to have your kids miss you at the game than be witness to you and your former-spouse arguing on the sidelines. It is also possible to write into a parenting plan that parents alternate involvement in sporting events so that both parents can remain involved in sports without the risk of exposing the kids to hostility.

With the holidays approaching, parents considering divorce may be wondering what holidays with their children could look like post-separation. While specifics should be discussed with an attorney, there is general information that might resolve some questions.

The Washington State parenting plan form includes the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The form provides just a starting point. Many families decide to add more holidays (ex. Easter, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, Halloween) and/or subtract some of the holidays (ex. Presidents’ Day, Veterans’ Day) already included.

The pattern form asks that parties provide where the children will reside during each of the holidays. It also asks that parties provide the time that the holidays will begin and end. In making this decision, it is important to consider the ages of the children, important times for the family during the holiday, and plans of extended family during holidays. Many families choose to have most holidays last from morning at around 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Then, many families choose to include exceptions to this general rule. For example, many make the Fourth of July an overnight and/or ask that Thanksgiving begin after school on Wednesday and last until Sunday. There isn’t a right or wrong way to handle holidays in your parenting plan, as long as your holiday schedule works for both parties and the children. We would be happy to help you draft a parenting plan that will keep your holidays as happy as possible.