When a couple who have children split up, it is imperative that they have the family court determine custody. If the couple is married, then custody will be determined during their divorce proceedings. If they were never married, they still need to file a child custody petition with the court. A family lawyer can assist parents with either situation.
As part of the child custody process, the couple will have to agree on a parenting plan as to how they will co-parent in the future. Issues such as parenting time, education, religion, and how the parents will communicate with each other are just some of the factors that a parenting plan needs to address. Ideally, both parents will agree as to how the parenting plan should read, however, even in friendly breakups there are often issues the couple disagrees about.
Your family lawyer will help you develop your parenting plan based on your own personal situation, however, the following is a brief overview of what a solid parenting plans should address:
- A parenting plan should address every day decisions which need to be made concerning the child. For example, how long can they watch television or play video games, how will homework be handled, what are the age-appropriate activities they can participate in?
- A parenting plan should address the major decisions that need to be addressed raising the child, including where they will attend school, what religion they will be raised in, and any medical decisions that need to be made.
- A parenting plan should address how much time the child spends with each parent. Not only does the plan need to address regular week and weekend schedules, but the plan should also address where the child will spend holidays, school vacations, birthdays, and other events.
As many people who have gone through the child custody process can attest, coming to an agreement on all these issues is easier said than done and the process can quickly become contentious. This is why it is critical to have a skilled family lawyer advocating for your parental rights.
Your family lawyer will make sure your parenting agreement meets the following criteria:
- The parenting plan will state that parents agree to work together to do what is best for their child, including making sure to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.
- The parenting plan will state how major decisions concerning the children will be addressed, whether the parents will make the decision jointly or whether each parent will be responsible for certain issues.
- The parenting plan will address how the child’s time will be spent.
- The parenting plan will address how the child will spend special days and holidays.
- The parenting plan will address how often the parents will get together to address whether or not modification of the plan is necessary or what would warrant modification.
- The parenting plan will address how the parents will handle disagreements before the move to file any petitions with the court.