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Should AI Write Your Parenting Plan?

Should you ask an AI program like ChatGPT to write a legal document like a parenting plan? Although you might be tempted, don’t do this in your divorce or custody case. There are better ways.

AIs aren’t qualified to give legal advice. If you ask a program like ChatGPT how you should prepare for court and what arguments you should make, its “advice” might be good or bad. It will just rephrase common language taken from other texts.

An AI program like ChatGPT isn’t an expert on child development. It doesn’t know what parenting plan is best for a school-age child; it may invent a suggestion.

It doesn’t know your personal situation. If you ask it to describe what happened between you and your ex last Christmas Eve, it will write fiction. It doesn’t know how much parenting time you’re actually getting. It’s up to you to track what actually happens in your personal journals and calendars, and you — not a robot — are the best one to tell your story.

Others may raise their eyebrows at an AI text if it appears to leave out details, lack empathy, or otherwise seem suspicious. It may place you or your child at risk of bad consequences. Or it may simply be legally inaccurate.

Be aware of whether it’s even legal for you to submit AI-generated or AI-assisted texts. Even if there’s no law or court rule against it, the judge may not be impressed. In some courts, lawyers have gotten in trouble with judges when they’ve been caught using AI to write arguments.

AI might write an incomplete document

When you’re not sure how to start a conversation, AI can draft a polite, businesslike letter intended for your ex or your lawyer. Once it gets the ball rolling, you can add your own details.

AI may also draft documents that include common parenting provisions like: “Parents agree to try mediation before returning to court.” You could replace a few words — e.g., “parenting coordination,” not “mediation.”

However, the AI might leave out a crucial question, like how parents will split the cost. (Did you forget that too just now?) If you forget the sentence entirely, you won’t plug in the information. This particular omission could result in the parents never trying the alternative dispute resolution method and escalating their arguments.

If you’re intimidated by drafting a parenting plan, here are a few ways to move forward:

  1. Consult a family lawyer. Not only do lawyers study what the law literally says, they also gain intuition of the ways in which parents are allowed (or forbidden) to be creative. Through years of experience, they learn what local judges tend to accept. For example, they can anticipate what the judge wants to hear when a parent asks for permission to move. Asking a lawyer for “unbundled services” (e.g., a single document) can lower the cost.
  1. A co-parenting app with legal templates and calendars can be another good source of guidance. For a relatively low cost, you’ll get a complete set of common provisions, like your expectations for doctor visits. That way, you’ll be sure you’re not leaving anything out of your proposal for court.
  1. Try mediation. A mediator listens carefully to what you say verbally. If you reach agreement, they draft a valid document (often called a “memorandum of understanding”). Both of you sign it, and the mediator submits it to the court.

Your court order for custody and parenting time helps to secure your child’s future. Don’t trust the outcome to experimental programs that may deceive or disappoint you. Consult professionals and use established technology.

author

Tucker Lieberman

Tucker Lieberman studied philosophy at Brown University and journalism at Boston University. He's a writer and researcher for Custody X Change. He also reads nonfiction manuscripts for Split/Lip Press. MORE

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