Parenting plans are essential to separation and divorce agreements. They allow parents to determine how time is spent with their child as they move forward.
Parenting plans consist of schedules related to family visits and holidays along with establishing where and when the child will live. These are important factors that are influenced by the best interests of the child and support the wellbeing of the entire family.
Understanding Parenting Plans
The requirements related to parenting plans may vary between states. In general, state courts ask the parents to include parenting plans in their divorce decrees or separation agreements.
Cases that involve disagreements on parenting plans may require more actions by the courts. This increases the potential for costly litigation, and having the right legal resources at your side helps you avoid additional financial costs or emotional upset.
Elements of a Parenting Plan
A well-drafted parenting plan should include time schedules that outline the visitation, living, and holiday time spent by the child throughout each year. Information related to transportation and exchanges should also be included in your parenting plan.
Any limitation of rights needs to be included in your parenting plan. These include contacting the child while he or she is with the other parent as well as each parents’ ability to gain access to information related to the child’s health care, education, and other personal aspects.
The parent who has been granted physical custody of the child must make decisions that affect the child’s daily living. But the needs of your child will evolve over time.
Your parenting plan must consider the best interests of your child in order to ensure a consistent and positive relationship between the child and both parents.
Outlining Time in Your Parenting Plan
Schedules related to visitation must consider all scenarios including where the child lives and where holidays are spent.
A holiday schedule is generally prioritized above the living arrangements, and there are a number of ways in which parents can allocate holiday time.
Some parents alternate the holidays by year. For example, one parent may have custody during holidays on even-numbered years while the other spends holidays on odd-numbered years with the child.
Other parents may choose to share custody on holidays by celebrating it on two separate days. Thanksgiving, for example, may be celebrated with one parent on the fourth Thursday of the month and then again with the other parent the previous or following week.
The child may also share holiday visits on the same day, with one parent having custody in the morning and the other in the afternoon or evening.
Living arrangements can be similarly established in a variety of ways. Parents often choose between 50/50, 60/40, 7/30, and 80/20 divisions of living time depending on the circumstances.
The time related to living can further be arranged using schedules consisting of alternating weeks, 2-week splits, and alternating days.
These may seem complex and difficult to keep track of, but they may be in the best interests of your child and should be considered when necessary. Alternating weekends and other arrangements can also be made.
Consulting with your family law attorney helps you determine the best schedule for you and your family. You can identify the best options for achieving the outcome you want with your parenting plan.
Understanding parenting plans and establishing holiday, living, and visitation times is critical to maintaining positive relationships within the entire family. It supports your child’s development and minimizes the emotional toll that a divorce or separation can take.
Creating the right parenting plan is the first step to supporting the best interests of your child and moving forward from after a divorce.