Reciprocity in Parenting Plans

As this blog has previously discussed, many family law actions require a parenting plan or residential schedule be created. As part of this plan or schedule, parents may request that the court order things in addition to the basics (i.e. outlining where the kids will reside, who has decision making authority, and who will transport the children between homes). Parents may seek to impose all sorts of restrictions on the other parent’s residential time. Parents may ask that the court to restrict who can be around the children without the other parent’s approval. They can ask the court to restrict how long the children can be with a babysitter, or who can babysit. There are parenting plans that specify who can drive the children and other details. Parenting plans may also set forth rules for when children may be introduced to the parents’ new significant others.

Many parents are happy to have the opportunity to have some input into the care the children receive at the other parent’s home. However, it is important to note, in many circumstances – especially those in which there is fairly equal residential time with each parent, and/or when there is no concern about either parents’ ability to parent – restrictions imposed on one parent will be imposed on the other parent. As an illustration, imagine that you decide to have a provision in your parenting plan that you get to approve all babysitters that care for your child for longer than three hours. This would mean that if you have something come up and need a last minute babysitter for a four-hour-appointment, you would have to get your last-minute babysitter approved by the other parent, or risk being in violation of the parenting plan.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have these additional provisions in your parenting plan; instead, it means you should think through whether you want to be required to comply with them as well. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your parenting plan/residential schedule.

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