The Goal For Drafting a Parenting Time Plan is Specificity Heaven
The Goal of Every Business is Repeat Business
Written by: Stefano Ceroni
What is the quintessential goal of almost every business when it comes to addressing the issue of customer service?
Businesses always want to provide their customers with good service not only for the purpose of spreading good word of mouth, but also because they realize the easiest new customer to land is the one they have already serviced.
That’s why businesses, no matter what their market, are always trying to improve upon their customer service (whether we actually realize it or not).
Don’t believe me? Think about this…
Did you know that credit card companies who outsource their customer support call centers train the local employees to speak with American and British accents?
Maybe you did…
But, did you also know these same companies offer courses in American pop-culture so their employees can be more adept at making references to people and subjects that are likely to be known by their customers?
It’s true…and, it’s all done for the sole purpose of providing better customer service.
Why? Because customer service is what drives repeat business, no matter how it’s implemented.
That’s right…large companies training their employees to be more American is the equivalent of a restaurant giving you gift cards at the end of your meal or a retail chain giving you rewards based on your prior purchases.
It’s all done with the same motivation-to get you coming back and spending more money.
Now, generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with these types of tactics. In fact, most would argue that it is a win-win business solution: the customer gets better service, which makes them happy, and the business gets more business, which in turn, makes them more money…which of course, makes them happy.
Two People To Whom You Don’t Want to Give Repeat Business
There are, however, some situations where customers absolutely do NOT want to be coming back to a business owner, no matter how good their customer service was.
Can you think of any?
How about the two obvious ones…doctors and lawyers!
That’s right, no matter how good a doctor’s or lawyer’s customer service is, nobody ever wants to find themselves having to see one any more than they absolutely have to.
(Trust me…as a family law attorney who spends the majority of my time providing services to clients who have already been through the court process once, I can certainly attest to the accuracy of this statement.)
Why is this the case?
Because, unfortunately, whenever there is a family law case that involves minor children, there is also the chance that future litigation will become necessary (See Blog on Substantial and Continuing Changes in Circumstances). You see, until children reach the age of majority (18), orders regarding parenting time, legal decision-making and child support are always subject to change.
That being said, although no party can ever completely eliminate the possibility of becoming a repeat customer when it comes to resolving child custody issues, what I can tell you is that with a little bit of due diligence, parties can substantially reduce their risks by avoiding the most preventable pitfall that faces many family law clients today…
The Parenting Time Plan.
Parenting Time Plans can be as short as a few sentences or as long as thirty (30) pages. Why?
Because according to Arizona law, there are only a handful of requirements that need to be included in any plan in order for it to be signed by your judge and entered as a formal order. So, some parties (and attorneys) choose only to address the most basic obligations and agreements, while others spend a great deal of time trying to address any and all parenting issues that could potentially arise in the future.
Why is the latter strategy preferable to the former?
Well, it is, at least in my opinion, always better to be as specific as possible when it comes to drafting Parenting Plans because of the natural tendency we all have of failing to anticipate future problems, especially when we’ve never had to deal with them in the past. To that point, by being more specific in your Parenting Time Plan and addressing more future contingencies, you can eliminate at least some of the potential issues that cause many family law clients to become unwanted repeat customers.
Don’t think you need to be that specific?
Consider this Parenting Time Plan issue that recently came up that caused both parties to regrettably return to Court:
Parenting Time Plan:
-Mom always receives parenting time with kids on her birthday (December 28).
-Christmas break is divided into three rotating segments, with Mom receiving the first and third in even years and the second in odd years.
-The Christmas break is defined as beginning on December 22nd (or the first day after the child was released from school), until January 3rd (or the day the child is set to return to school).
See the potential problem, yet?
That’s right…everyone forgot that Mom’s birthday was December 28th. So, when Mom’s birthday fell on Dad’s Christmas break time (and travel plans had already been made)… You got it…repeat business. (Just to clarify, I did not represent either party when the original plan was ordered).
As you can see, future issues are always going to be lurking when it comes to resolving disputes about children.
Now, some of you may be laughing, thinking that this issue regarding “one-day” of parenting time was no big deal and how you and your own ex would have no problem resolving this dilemma on your own.
If that’s the case, great!
However, I must warn you, you wouldn’t be the first person to tell me that you and your ex were on good terms one month, only to find yourselves back in court the next.
To that point, being specific about everything, even if you don’t think it will be an issue now, is always good practice.
Hey, you never know, you may even find yourself in Specificity Heaven, where no chance exists of you ever becoming an unwanted repeat customer again.