In Washington State, divorcing and separating parents—and their attorneys—have the challenging task of creating a Parenting Plan. This is the time to decide and spell out which parent the children will be with on each major and personal holiday.
If you are going through this or are about to, try to focus on the long-term ramifications of your decisions. Parents in the initial stages of a divorce are going through a difficult and highly emotional time. When people are in crisis, they may spend too much time worrying about solving their issues to make it through the following year.
However, people who focus only on the short-term may be shocked when their plan doesn’t stand the test of time. The plan you create now is legally binding until the child reaches the age of 18. With that in mind, will the schedule you create now for your young children still work when they are teenagers?
What may work for a four-year-old might not correlate to an effective Parenting Plan for a teenager. For example, if pickup and drop-off times are at 8 am on holiday mornings, will that always be a good time? (Most parents of teenagers will tell you it can be very challenging to rouse a sleepy teen.) Ideally, both parents being flexible will resolve almost any issue that arises. Parents can agree to deviate from the plan. However, you cannot count on the other parent always seeing eye-to-eye with you, and you need to plan accordingly..
On the other hand, if the plan isn’t working and one or both parents aren’t flexible, you can try to change it through mediation or court process. You should, however, be prepared for a difficult victory. The court sets a very high standard when it comes to changing Parenting Plans. Why? Because there is a presumption that the best interest of the child lies in what was decided originally and that renewed litigation is contrary to children’s best interests.
Decisions To Be Made
The critical takeaway is to put serious thought into your Parenting Plan. Sorting out holidays is a common hurdle. There are several ways in which you can split time. It is paramount that your plan includes more detail than you think is even necessary.
What defines a holiday? You may point out the absurdity of that. Christmas is the 25th of December and Thanksgiving is the third Thursday in November. But there have been times when July 4th was observed on July 5th. Those are the types of considerations you should consider. Being vague or leaving room for interpretation could set up long-lasting pain points.
Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC
There are a significant number of variables and details to sort out when creating a Parenting Plan. When you choose to work with the Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC, you have the benefit of our experience. We understand how to mitigate some of the challenges that come with Parenting Plans because of our experience. If you have any further questions or would like to meet with an attorney, contact us to schedule your consultation.