When separated parents are working out a co-parenting arrangement, and one of the parents suffers from mental illness, alcoholism, or chemical dependency, the other parent sometimes will often be concerned about a potential crisis. The crisis would involve the addict parent’s relapse or the mentally ill parent’s breakdown. So the other parent will seek a parenting plan that factors the potential crisis into the regular parenting schedule. They may seek curtailed parenting time, supervised parenting time, or even the suspension of parenting time altogether. Sometimes this will happen in an effort to disingenuously gain an advantage in the parenting schedule. But sometimes it will be a completely genuine concern.
Not only does an emphasized focus on the potential crisis improperly stigmatize the parent with addiction or mental illness, it is a disservice to the child(ren) as well. The children deserve to have a parenting schedule that is “normal.” It is more constructive to create a parenting plan that has a Main Track and a Crisis Track. The Main Track is the parenting schedule that proceeds without regard to the addiction or mental illness. It allows normalcy for the affected parent and (probably more importantly) the children. The Crisis Track is the schedule (or conditions, or suspension of parenting time) that is to be in place in the event of a crisis.
There is the potential for the parties to disagree about the occurrence or onset of a crisis, and whether the Crisis Track should be triggered or not. But establishing a Main Track and a Crisis Track is helpful in moving beyond getting the parenting plan worked out.