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Developing an effective parenting plan

Maryland parents who are ending their marriage might think that they only need to worry about co-parenting until their children turn 18. However, in reality, parents may continue to have some connection with one another throughout their lives as their children grow up and have children of their own. By starting early with a solid parenting plan, parents may be better able to navigate the decades ahead.

A parenting plan can also help create boundaries, reduce conflict and anticipate future problems. It can help both parents and children who are struggling with the emotional turmoil of a divorce. A good plan signals to children that their parents are making them a priority. It also can provide a framework for dealing with conflict in the years ahead. Above all, the process gives parents the opportunity to anticipate and discuss issues. Some parents might never take a second look at the plan after it has been created, but in other cases, it can serve as written proof regarding original agreements and modifications.

A parenting plan usually deals with physical custody, legal custody and other related issues. The first two may be shared and deal respectively with where the child lives and who makes major decisions on the child's behalf. Other provisions can spell out what will happen in various scenarios such as one parent's relocation.

Parents may be happier if they are able to negotiate without going to court, but if parents cannot come to an agreement, it may be necessary to turn the matter over to a judge. A judge will attempt to determine what is in the best interests of the child. An attorney might assist a parent in the event litigation is required.

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