A friend of mine is going through the stages of a contentious divorce and sent me a copy of the draft parenting plan that he’s sent to his soon-to-be-ex-wife. I read through it and there were two hiccups that struck me, one a bit amusing and the other just a minefield if things are going to remain difficult once they’re divorced.
First, the parenting plan proposal says this:
Where exactly are the children between 9am and 4pm on Fridays when there’s no school? Yeah, that’s the kind of thing where lawyers are coming up with boilerplate and have 9am as drop-off, 4pm as pickup, and that’s just what they use, without always thinking things through.
How could this be a problem? Well, if one parent assumes that on days the children are sick (which isn’t specified here, note) and weeks when there’s no school — like summer vacation — the children will show up at 4pm, while the other parent has their day already planned because they’re expecting to drop off the child or children at 9am.
That’s not the serious one, though. The bigger issue in the draft agreement is around birthdays. It says:
If the birthday takes place on a school day, when does the other parent get time and how does that look?
In our experience based on years of birthdays for all three of our kids, the non-custodial parent will take the child immediately after school for ice cream or similar, then drop them off at the other parent’s house 60-90min later.
And parties? We’re still working on “both parents attending the celebration” thing and, sad to report, it’s so tricky in the children’s minds that my kids have kind of given up having birthday parties rather than deal with the question of “mom’s place” vs “dad’s place” vs neutral territory. The irony? My ex, her new husband and I get along just fine and could certainly all attend a birthday event, particularly at a park, bowling alley, climbing gym or similar.
It’s certainly interesting to read through a parenting plan after years of living the single life and dealing with what crops up. I’m just glad to be able to point out these two glitches in my friend’s proposed parenting schedule and hope they can work everything out…