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What are differences between well-written divorce settlements and parenting plans and poorly written, in an acrimonious divorce? What topics might one want to consider including that might not be in an off-the-shelf document?

For example, various courts in Georgia have issued a skeletal parenting plan that covers common topics, such as: http://www.southernjudicialcircuit.com/selfhelp/parentingplan/contestedplan.pdf. I am looking for suggestions that go beyond this type of skeletal plan.

Here are some examples:

  • both parents shall maintain adequate housing with a separate room for each child.

  • parents shall maintain civil relationship if both are attending the same event

  • neither parent will move more than 15 miles from current locations

  • neither parent will have a non-blood relative member of the opposite sex spend the night while the child is present.

(Yes, there is an attorney involved. But not all attorneys are equally careful or competent. I would like to be an intelligent consumer of what the attorney suggests.)

  • This seems really broad; people write books on the topic. Are you able to break this down into a narrow question, by chance? – Pat W. Nov 1 '15 at 20:38
  • @PatW. I guess the less one knows about a topic the broader the question. Georgia has a skeletal parenting plan that covers common topics: southernjudicialcircuit.com/selfhelp/parentingplan/… I was looking for suggestions that go beyond this skeletal plan. I'll add this to the question. – user3270 Nov 1 '15 at 22:36
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My rules of agreement making

First rule of making agreements: the less trust there is in the relationship the more detail needs to be in the agreement.

Second rule of making agreements: enforcing an agreement on a recalcitrant participant when simple negotiation is ineffective is rarely worth the cost and aggravation.

Third rule of making agreements: Consequences for failing to comply should be spelled out in the agreement. The "or else ..." clauses all need to be detailed. Otherwise you are going to court to find out what happens.

Forth rule of making agreements: Long term agreements need to be changeable and flexible. This conflicts with rules one and three - no one said this was easy.

Your examples

both parents shall maintain adequate housing with a separate room for each child.

... and if the can't because they lose their job?

.. and what is "adequate" anyway?

parents shall maintain civil relationship if both are attending the same event

Good luck - by definition people with an acrimonious relationship will have difficulty being civil.

neither parent will move more than 15 miles from current locations

This would be a void clause - no one can tell you where you can and can't live.

neither parent will have a non-blood relative member of the opposite sex spend the night while the child is present.

This would also be a void clause - no one can tell you who you can and can't have as a house guest.

TL;DR

Your relationship with your spouse is over - get used to the fact that you will have no control on what they do and who they do it with. With that as a starting point you need to sit down like grown-ups and work out what is best for your children that fits with each of your lifestyle choices and you will need to do this again and again until the children are old enough to make their own decisions. A lawyer can't really help you with this.

Edit

A comment suggested that the examples were not untenable. For clarity - they are not untenable; they are unenforceable. People are free to agree to anything they want, even illegal things, and they can follow that agreement as long as they want, however, if they don't follow it and the other party turns to the courts, if the terms of the agreement are illegal then the court will not enforce them.

A further comment asked for an illustration of my "third rule":

neither parent will move more than 15 miles from current locations without providing at least 3 months notice. During the notice period the parents will meet and attempt to agree on revised custody arrangements. Should agreement not be possible or the notice period not be met then the revised arrangements shall be X, Y & Z.

  • How might one word a provision to address your 4th rule? (BTW, my examples 1, 2 and 4 were suggested by a divorce attorney. Example 3 came from a book. So the examples can't be as untenable as you suggest.) – user3270 Nov 1 '15 at 22:31
  • Would you please give an example or two of wording that addreses your third rule (consequences). – user3270 Nov 1 '15 at 22:39
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An example of a bad divorce settlement: One that leaves ambiguous details that are sure to be encountered later; Also, one that fails to actually disentangle the two litigants. Avoid clauses that require ongoing additional agreement or reporting between the litigants, because that just means you will CONTINUE to enjoy the process with each other into the future, rather than being done with it.

Another example of a "bad" divorce settlement is one that the court/judge "can't conscience" and thus will not sign. Examples are agreements that are vastly one-sided, agreements that do not allow one or the other party adequate living costs, etc.

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