Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Parenting plans can ensure continued parent-child relationships

Massachusetts parents who are considering divorce may experience anxiety over the drafting of parenting plans. It is not uncommon for parents to wonder whether both parents will make joint decisions, or whether one parent will have the authority to make a final decision in cases where they disagree. Couples may find comfort knowing that they need not draft parenting plans on their own, as the services of experienced legal professionals can provide the necessary support to achieve a binding and fair agreement.

Decisions related to parenting and visitation are most commonly negotiated through direct negotiations, mediation or a collaborative process. However, the circumstances of every family are unique, and in some cases when mutual agreements can not be reached, litigation remains a necessary option. Couples who opt for the mediation process will utilize the experience and objective input of a mediator who will guide them to reach agreements through communication and compromise. Such a professional will strive to ensure that the children's best interests are considered at all times.

Going the collaborative route will involve negotiations where the attorney of each parent is present to facilitate the negotiations, along with a number of professionals -- such as therapists -- to assist in the process. The goal is to draft a parenting plan in cooperation with the parents that best fits the needs of the parties and focuses on the best interests of the children. A summarized version will be presented to both attorneys for authorization. In cases where all communication between parents have broken down, and attempts to resolve disputes have failed, a court may have to decide on the parents' behalf.

Parents in Massachusetts may want to visit our family law website to obtain more information about parenting plans. Mediation and collaboration are two alternative dispute resolution measures designed to ease the transition into the new life of separate households while maintaining loving relationships with your children. While it is sometimes unavoidable, exposing children to the potentially hostile atmosphere of a divorce court may be contrary to their best interests.

Source: divorcesource.com, "The Making of a Parenting Plan", Alla Roytberg, Sept. 23, 2014

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