Get the Facts About Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans in Child Custody Cases

The first and most important thing to understand when it comes to the custody of your child in a family law case is the parenting plan and how it affects your future with your child. A parenting plan is a document that lays out everything that has to do with your child’s interaction with you and your spouse. Laid out in the parenting plan of a child custody case is the child’s schedule, how much time they will spend with each of you, who pays for child support and how much, and other important elements. Getting it “right” is critical to ensuring the future welfare and well-being of the child or children in question.

Writing the Parenting Plan

It is important to have a seasoned family law attorney write your parenting plan. There are elements that must be incorporated. In addition, it is important to have a very clear and direct plan. There has to be an element of fairness, and even more importantly, you have to cover every aspect of the child’s schedule and expenses. This shows the judge that you have carefully considered the child’s future and have a very clear plan in mind that is fair to the other person and takes into account both finance and scheduling. Writing a parenting plan yourself is never a good idea because family law attorneys better understand how to craft these documents appropriately.

Best Interest in a Parenting Plan

There are elements in a parenting plan that must reflect the child’s best interest. One of the things to remember is if the child, or children, have been in the same home for many years of their life, the judge may not be inclined to move the children without very good reason. This goes to a core tenet of a parenting plan, providing stability for the child. Because a divorce can be very trying on a child, the family law judges tend to favor stability and keeping the child in a situation they are most comfortable with. This is called the best interest of the child and is the driving factor for virtually every decision that a family law judge makes when deciding to accept or reject elements of a parenting plan. This applies to both you and the other party.

Common Schedules

While there is no set standard, the most common plans involve moving the children around as little as possible. For example, they may live with one parent during the school week, seeing the other for dinner one or two nights a week and then on the weekend. By sleeping in the same bed and waking up with the same school routine, this provides a level of stability and continuity for children.  Older children may not need this and a flexible plan where the week is divided in half may be a viable option. For parents living far apart, the children are typically with one parent during the school year and the other over the summer and on holidays.

What is your plan like?

If you have gone through this process and are living with a parenting plan, how did you structure it?  Share your thoughts here.

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