Parenting Plan Overview

In our capacity as family law judges, we are pleased to provide this Parenting Plan Orientation program. We want to help you and your children work through the process of divorce or parenting plan negotiations. Our goal is to help parents learn ways to keep children out of the middle of their conflicts during this difficult time and try to help you avoid the fighting that ends up with the judge making the decisions about your children rather than you making those decisions yourself. 

We are committed to managing cases in a peaceful, problem solving way, rather than allowing parents to be pitted unnecessarily against each other in a manner that creates further discord. Court trials lead to increased hostility and conflict between parents. This conflict is always negative for the children.

We believe that parents know what is best for their children. When parents split up, your child's life and your life change completely.

The situation that children find themselves in, as their parents go through a divorce or parenting plan negotiations, is not one that they chose.

Please read this sentence again and think of times you were used by others in their own fights. Children should not be used by their parents to solve the parents' own fights. Children should not be used by their parents to solve the parents' own disagreements or by one parent to gain power over the other. When this occurs, it is a strong source of tension and anxiety for children. It is not a one-time event but happens over and over again. Children can and will survive the stress of this difficult time if we help them do so. 

Although no single one thing predicts how well a particular child will do, recent research into the effects of divorce on children have uncovered several factors. Some of them seem to be the result of simple good luck.Others, however, can be influenced by parents who are willing to educate themselves and to seek help in learning to cooperate with the other parent.

The amount and intensity of parental conflict is the biggest factor in children's post-separation adjustment. High levels of disagreement and fighting between their parents is the single largest cause of a poor outcome for children. Fortunately, it is also the factor over which parents have the most control.

One of the critical factors of a "child's best interest" is how the parents resolve conflict. We believe that you are in the best position to know what is best for your child or children and we wish to help you with this.

In this two-hour presentation, you will hear first from the Court as we address divorce with "a view from the Judge". The program continues with discussion from a mental health professional who will discuss the effects that divorce has on your children. A family law mediator will provide you with tips on communicating and negotiation with the other parent and the use of mediation, which involves a neutral third party who will try to help the parents reach agreement but will not make one for them.

We hope that this program will help you help your children through this difficult time and will help you develop lasting skills to help your children adjust to your new lifestyles.

Sincerely, 

The Judges of the First Judicial Court