Collaborative Parenting Plans: How Will You Resolve Future Impasses?

Collaborative Parenting Plans: How Will You Resolve Future Impasses?. Woman holding crystal ball in front of plants. Photo by Bruno Thethe (Pexels).

Many parents agree to resolve privately future impasses if they can’t agree on decisions for their children. Parents who choose the collaborative process appreciate court fighting can be costly and drawn out. These concerns apply equally for initial proceedings and for future modification actions. Therefore, to resolve impasses, consider returning to the collaborative process or mediation before you go to court.

Example Language for Collaborative Agreements and Parenting Plans to Resolve Future Impasses

In collaborative divorce, parents often commit to return to the collaborative team if they get stuck and can’t agree about important decisions for their children. Therefore, they may express this commitment in their collaborative marital settlement agreements.

Marital Settlement Agreements: ADR Clause

In your collaborative marital settlement agreement, consider if language like this might work for your family:

RETURN TO COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: Before seeking relief in court, we will attempt to resolve any disagreements, disputes, and conflicts pertaining to this Agreement by returning to the collaborative process or by attending mediation.  If the collaborative process or mediation is unsuccessful, either of us will give the other ten (10) days’ written notice of intent to file this Agreement with the Court for enforcement, modification, or contempt. The cost of post-judgment collaboration, mediation, or other dispute resolution shall be apportioned based on our pro rata share of net income.

Parenting Plans: ADR Clause

In your Parenting Plan, your collaborative lawyer, the team, and you might consider and agree to language like this:

DISPUTES OR CONFLICT RESOLUTION: We will attempt cooperatively to resolve any disputes which may arise over the terms of this Parenting Plan. We may wish to use mediation or other dispute resolution methods and assistance, such as Parenting Coordinators and Parenting Counselors, before filing a court action.  Except for a dispute regarding enforcement of obligations under this Parenting Plan, for any dispute regarding the Parenting Plan that we have not resolved, after using out best efforts to resolve it, prior to filing any action, we shall return to the neutral collaborative facilitator (or, if the facilitator is no longer available, a mutually agreed upon successor collaborative facilitator) or to the full Collaborative team.  Either of us may request in writing the other parent to participate in alternative dispute resolution of any unresolved dispute according to this Section. 

Requiring Return to ADR in a Settlement Agreement is an Enforceable Contract Condition

Remember Florida courts encourage family law settlement agreements, for initial actions and modification actions. It makes sense to build into settlement agreements procedures for resolving future disputes without adversarial fighting. For example, you might agree to return to the collaborative process or go to mediation. Such agreements are enforceable contract conditions. See, e.g., Kiger v. Kiger, Case No. 3D21-1150 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb 9, 2022); Ferguson v. Ferguson, 54 So. 3d 553 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011)

What else might you and your child’s other parent consider agreeing on to avoid future litigation? To read about agreeing to a different burden for modifying your parenting plan, read here.

Read more:

1: Collaborative Family Law Agreements: A Child’s Prospective Best Interests 

2: Collaborative Family Law Agreements: Florida Parenting Plan Basics

3: Collaborative Family Law Agreements: A Child’s Future Best Interests

4: Florida Parenting Plans and Events Reasonably Certain to Occur

5: Children’s Best Interests: Parenting Plans Entail Prediction

6: Collaborative Parenting Plans: Extraordinary Burden for Modification

7: Collaborative Family Law: Florida Favors Settlement Agreements

8: Collaborative Parenting Plans: Judges Must Safeguard Children

9: Collaborative Parenting Plans: Anticipating Events Certain to Occur

10: Parenting Plan Modification: Enlist Court Review When Events Occur

12: Contingencies Parents Build into their Parenting Plans in Florida Divorces

13: Florida Parenting Plans: Agreeing to a Different Burden for Modification

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