–by Sam Darling, divorce attorney in Washington State
Section VI of the Washington mandatory parenting plan template contains a blank section entitled “Other Provisions”. “What goes there,” you ask? This short article attempts to shed light on typical Other Provisions.
Most divorce attorneys have a generic set of provisions that they insert into nearly every proposed parenting plan they write. That generic set differs from law firm to law firm, but the most common topics seem to be:
- Flexibility of schedule: encouraging the parents to be flexible with each other, for the children’s sake.
- Telephone access: allowing the parents and children to call each other regularly regardless which parent the children are staying with that day.
- Non-disparagement: prohibiting parties from badmouthing each other in front of their children.
- Religion: allowing each parent to expose the children to his or her religion while the children are staying with the parent.
- No waiver: clarifying that flexible implementation of the parenting plan does not waive either parent’s rights.
- Parents’ contact information: requiring the parties to keep each other up-to-date with respect to their addresses and phone numbers.
- Children’s contact information: requiring the parents to notify each other when the children stay someplace else for more than a couple days.
- No conditioning performance: prohibiting the parties from committing tit for tat violations of the parenting plan.
- Respecting different parenting styles: encouraging the parties to accept each other’s different parent styles.
- Not including children in parenting disputes: forbidding the parties from asking their children to take sides in parenting disputes, or from even telling their children about parenting disputes.
The following is an example set of Other Provisions:
6.1 Flexibility in Residential Schedule. The parties are encouraged to implement the residential schedule flexibly.
6.2 Telephone Access. The child(ren) shall have liberal telephone privileges with the parent with whom the child(en) is/are not then residing (or vacationing), without interference of the other parent. Both parents shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure the child(ren) understand how to make phone calls to the other parent. Neither parent may monitor the other parent’s phone conversations with the child(ren).
6.3 Neither parent shall make derogatory comments about the other parent or allow anyone else to do the same in the child(ren)’s presence. Neither parent shall allow or encourage the child(ren) to make derogatory comments about the other parent. Each parent agrees to exert every reasonable effort to promote the emotions of affection, love, and respect between the child(ren) and the other parent. Each parent agrees to refrain from words or conduct, and both parents agree to discourage other persons from uttering words or engaging in conduct, which would have a tendency to estrange the child(ren) from the other parent, to damage the opinion of the child(ren) as to the other parent, or which would impair the natural development of the child(ren)’s love and respect for the other parent.
6.4 Religion. Each parent shall be entitled to have the child(ren) participate with him/her in his/her religious activities. Neither parent shall disparage the other parent’s religious activities or attempt to sway the child(ren) to his/her respective religious or philosophical viewpoint.
6.5 Acceptance or waiver of any deviations from the provisions of the Parenting Plan shall not constitute acceptance or waiver of subsequent deviations. The provisions of this plan shall remain in effect until modified by an appropriate written order entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
6.6 Emergency Contact Number and Address. Each parent will keep the other informed at all times of emergency telephone contact numbers and the residential address of the child(ren).
6.7 Child(ren) Away from Residence. Each parent will inform the other when that parent plans to be away from his or her residence with the child(ren) for more than two nights. The information to be provided should include duration of the period, and the name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the destination(s).
6.8 Conditioning Performance of Parenting Plan. Pursuant to RCW 26.09.160, an attempt by any parent, in any negotiation for the performance of this Parenting Plan, to condition one aspect of the Parenting Plan upon another, may be deemed to be in bad faith. If the court finds that a parent acted in bad faith in an attempt to condition parental functions, in a refusal to perform the duties provided in the Parenting Plan, or in the hindrance of performance of the other parent, the court may punish that conduct by a private award or other remedies including criminal or civil contempt and attorney’s fees.
6.9 Each parent agrees to honor one another’s parenting style, privacy and authority. Neither parent shall interfere in the parenting style of the other nor shall either parent make plans or arrangements that would impinge upon the other parent’s authority or time with the child(ren) without the express agreement of the other. Each parent shall encourage the child(ren) to discuss her grievance against a parent directly with the parent in question. It is the intent of both parents to encourage direct parent-child bonding and communication.
This list of Other Provisions certainly should not be interpreted as exhaustive. Presumably a judge, party, or lawyer could write virtually anything in the Other Provisions section so long as the topic relates to the parenting of the children in issue.
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