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What if two parents absolutely cannot agree on a parenting plan?

Bonney Lake, WA |

I read that I must submit a parenting plan, and my son's father has already done so. However, the father doesn't care about my son AT ALL, and only wants rights to him because he knows he'll be giving me what I don't want. He is unfit in every aspect of the word, therefore I refuse to agree on ANY plan he may have created with the help of his sleezy family. What happens when both parents can't come to agreement? And do we HAVE to do mediation when the parenting plan doesn't work out? Can I tell my side to a judge and let the courts decide? PLEASE help!!

Attorney Answers 3


If the two of you do not agree, the courts will order you first to mediation as an attempt to getting the two of you to work things out. It really acts as a failsafe mechanism to allow the parties in a heated scenario the chance to sit down with the help of a neutral third party and hash out things. The idea behind it is that maybe, just maybe, the parties will work out their differences and come to a mutually agreeable plan and help avoid the added burden on court resources that a hearing will place.

Now, does it work? In reality, it is a mixed bag of results. Mediation only works if both parties come to the table with the idea that they are open to compromise and discourse. Your attitude above indicates that the likelihood of success is slim at best. It doesn't matter how good the mediator is if the two parties do not agree and compromise. If it's not that difficult, mediation works brilliantly. If the two parties are as far apart as Israel and Palestine, then you may have some issues to deal with.

What can you do then? You have little choice but to try mediation, at least the first go-through. If, at that first meeting, the mediation does not work, the mediator can make a report to the judge that it is their opinion that the two sides are so far apart that compromise and further mediation is unlikely to net positive results. At that point, the judge will take the report into consideration and set things for a trial day. That day, you can then present your evidence to the court as you feel is necessary. Keep in mind, though, that your ex may well have things to bring to the judge that will add complications to your story as well.

You should approach mediation with an open mind and a willingness to at least demonstrate your willingness to cooperate. Mediators have been doing this for some time and they can usually tell whether a party is actively participating, going through the motions, or stone-walling. You also do not get a copy of the report that the mediator initially sends to the judge so if you go into the session with the position you are articulating above, be prepared to face some consequences for any fallout that may occur.

This answer is provided as a general opinion to a question posted on an internet forum. This does not create in either party the expectation that an attorney-client relationship has been entered into between the original poster and the Law Office of Reid Seino, LLC. Any information provided should not be solely taken as legal advice but in the context of general information. Please seek legal representation for any specific legal questions.

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Awesome answer. Thank you, thank you!


Either parent can file a motion for a temporary parenting plan which will be effective until an agreement or trial. At trial the judge will decide issues of custody and visitation. It’s always best to consult with a good family law attorney to discuss the details before you act. See my AVVO Legal Guides on parenting plans and child custody for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although these Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”.

This AVVO Answer is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney responding, and no attorney-client confidentiality. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Answer is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances described in your question. The applicable law and the appropriate answer may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes

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If you cannot agree on a PP, then the Judge decides for you after you both submit your proposed PP to the Judge at trial. You are required to go to a settlement conference prior to trial. If there is a violation of the PP after it is entered, you may use court action instead of mediation, but you have to say so in the proposed PP before the Judge signs the same.

Please note that THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE and are for informational purposes only. This response is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship and is only based on the limited facts given. The response might change should additional facts be learned and should not be relied on as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who can properly assess the situation, as well as all pertinent facts, prior to taking any action based on the foregoing statements

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