When parents divorce, they have to create a parenting agreement, also known as a parenting plan. Essentially, a parenting plan is a blueprint of each parent's custody rights and responsibilities. It is important to understand that a parenting plan is not optional; you will have to present a version of your plan to the family court for final approval.
It's always best if parents can set aside their personal differences and work together to create a plan that is as accommodating as possible to the entire family's needs and desires. The plan can be negotiated informally by employing collaborative law or mediation.
There are many broad issues of custody and parenting that almost all parenting plans address. These issues include:
- Visitation schedules.
- Your child's physical residence.
- Who will have custody of your child during vacations, major holidays, and birthdays.
- How major decisions, such as the child's welfare and upbringing, will be handled.
- Details regarding your child's relationships with family friends, grandparents and other third parties.
These are just some of the major points typically covered in a parenting plan. Your plan will include details that are specific to your family.
A parenting plan serves to delineate the rights and responsibilities of both parents and its terms are legally binding. As such, you don't want to rush through drafting your plan, because once it is approved by a judge, it will also require approval to make any subsequent changes.
In the interest of getting the kinds of terms you want for child custody, you may want to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family law attorney. The attorney can assess your and your family's circumstances and help work out a plan to your liking. The attorney can also represent your interests when negotiating terms with your ex-spouse.