Too often we have clients who need their Divorce Decree amended or supplemented because it was not completed accurately when it was originally done. The most common mistake is failing to define the parenting plan with enough specificity to avoid later fights. Frequently when parties do their divorce themselves, they fail to include pick-up and drop-off times for the child(ren), or who will be responsible for transportation. Also, the holidays need to be clearly defined. To only say that “Mother shall have Christmas day in even numbered years and Father in odd numbered years”, leaves the issue of what time “Christmas day” starts and ends. Does it actually end on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning? What time? Does it end at midnight of the 26th, or some other time?
Parenting time during the summer months is often grouped in with school year parenting schedule. A summer parenting schedule should be set forth separately from the normal parenting time schedule with times for exchange set forth. For instance, it would not be appropriate to say “Father shall have the minor children from after school every Wednesday until returning the children to school every Thursday”. What are we doing during the summer? Even if the child(ren) is not yet of school age, this should be done so that it is not necessary to return to Court and fight about it at a later date.
The lesson is, take the time and do a thorough parenting plan while you have the chance to get it right the first time. You and the other parent are free to do whatever you want with respect to parenting time so long as you both agree. However, when you don’t agree, you need a solid Court order to fall back on.