Using a Parenting Agreement to Anticipate Conflict

Using a Parenting Agreement to Anticipate ConflictDespite reaching a parenting agreement during their divorce or separation, it is common for co-parents to disagree with each other about parenting decisions afterward. Parents in a high-conflict relationship seem particularly adept at finding topics to argue about. You may wonder how effective your parenting agreement is if you continue to disagree on your parenting schedule and how to raise your children. Co-parents who anticipate continued conflict should create an agreement that is clear in stating how parental responsibilities will be allocated and when it will allow deviations.

Detailed Agreement

Co-parenting conflicts can arise when the language in a parenting agreement is ambiguous. Your co-parent may have a different interpretation of a vague section in the agreement. Even if that interpretation was not your intention when creating the agreement, your co-parent can take advantage of the ambiguity to use it as a defense for his or her actions. A high-conflict parenting agreement can avoid differing interpretations by being detailed, such as stating:

  • Specific days and times that each parent will have the children;
  • Which parent will have the children during holidays and other special events;
  • How the children will be transferred between parents;
  • Which parenting decisions each parent is allowed to make without consulting the other;
  • Who is responsible for paying for parenting expenses outside of child support; and
  • What the parents should do when circumstances force them to deviate from the agreement.

Limiting Contact

Communication is necessary when co-parenting children, but co-parents in a high-conflict relationship know that prolonged interaction between them can end in an argument. A parenting agreement can lay out when and how the parents will contact each other:

  • Conversations on parenting issue can be done during scheduled phone calls or by email;
  • Parents can choose a neutral location to transfer the children; and
  • Child pickups can take place at locations where the other parent does not need to be there, such as school.

Changes to the Agreement

There are times when it is most practical for co-parents to deviate from the parenting agreement, whether it is a temporary change or a permanent one. Flexibility is difficult in a high-conflict relationship because the parents need to cooperate with each other. The agreement can create a structured process for discussing changes, including:

  • How far in advance a parent must tell the other about a proposed change;
  • How soon a parent should respond to the proposal; and
  • Whether a mediator is needed for the discussion.

Crafting a Parenting Agreement

A parenting agreement can settle disputes between co-parents in advance, but there are also times when the agreement must be changed. A Kane County family law attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can help you create a parenting agreement and modify it. To schedule a free consultation, call 331-588-6611.


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