Good fences make good neighbors

Why is it important to have very specific language in court orders, parenting agreements and divorce settlement documents?


You could look at this like the orange line painted down the middle of a highway. You wouldn't make that line with chalk! No, you'd want to use paint that would be permanent, and that would stand the test of time.


Similarly, the language of a court order defines each party's rights and responsibilities, their areas of influence and the limitations on their behavior. Especially when children are involved, it's very important that those limitations be clearly set forth. Just as you would not want the center line on the highway painted with chalk, you don't want the language of your court orders or agreements to use words like “reasonable” or “accommodate the changing needs of the children,” or “either party can cancel his or her parenting time upon 48 hours’ notice.” This is just going to cause day-to-day and week-to-week stress, due to the unpredictable nature of the language.


If there is an analogy that applies to the language of parenting agreements and divorce settlements, it would be those old Roman walls in Europe, the ones that have stood the test of time for hundreds of years. “Good fences make good neighbors,” as Robert Frost said. just as those old Roman walls clearly defined one person's land from another person's land, the language of a Parenting Agreement marks the division between each parent’s parenting time.


If you have clear language that defines your days, times, weekends, vacations and other parenting time, it's much more likely than you will be able to quietly enjoy them, rather than be involved in endless struggles over the meaning and interpretation of those paragraphs. You live your days on your side of the wall, your clearly-defined parenting days and hours, and the other side does the same.


Very-predictable parenting time leads to calm parents, calm children, and a happy future for all.

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