COMMUNICATION WITH THE CHILDREN
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE PARENTS
- It's generally accepted that each parent should be able to call the children once daily while the kids are in the other parent's care. Language in the parenting plan should specify this akin to, "Parents shall be entitled to call the children once daily from 4pm to 8pm, while the children are in the custody of the other parent. Parents are required to have an answering machine or voicemail on their phone and must return a message left by the other parent on the same day, in the event the children were not available when the other parent called."
- Generally, it's accepted that children can call either parent as often as they want.
- Most older children use email. It's reasonable to allow unrestricted email exchanges between older children and each parent. Consider including a clause that neither parent shall monitor the email correspondence between the children and the other parent.
- As new technologies emerge, think about the implications on staying in touch with the children. This may include web cams, texting, video phones, etc.
COMMUNICATION ABOUT THE PARENTS
- Consider including a clause stating that the parents shall not discuss parenting issues in front of the children or within earshot of the children.
- If there's a history of not being able to discuss matters calmly and productively, consider requiring that parents communicate in writing-- by letter or email. This helps avoid explosive arguments, and it also keeps a paper trail if needed.
- Many parenting plans have a standard clause that neither parent is to make disparaging remarks about the other parent within earshot of the children. Further, some state that neither parent will allow other people to make disparaging remarks of the other parent within earshot of the children.
- In my case, it was necessary to add a clause in our parenting plan stating that neither parent shall make disparaging remarks about the other parent to the parents of our child's classmates. My ex previously was poisoning the parents of other kids against me, which created tension between them and myself. Having a clause in our parenting plan (made into court orders) now makes it grounds for contempt if my ex does it. It seems to have mostly stopped the inappropriate behavior.
NOTE: I've found what I consider to be two very good sources for high-quality parenting plans. One offers a set of downloadable plans that you can modify, the other lets you create a parenting plan online and modify it.
Both of the sites above have the same 'parent' company and have the same plans. The only difference is that the online version also lets you share revisions with guests (your ex, your attorney, etc). This may or may not be useful, depending on your circumstances.