What is a Parenting Plan?
It’s a written document, a list of who does what, when and where in the care and upbringing of a child or children. It all begins with the breakdown of a marriage. If there are children below a certain age, someone must take responsibility for the children. A judge in a divorce court will rule on this matter but will consider a parenting plan.
It might be that one parent will have total care and responsibility for the children with the other parent granted certain access rights. Or it might be a more balanced handling of the matter with both parents taking it in turns to look after the kids.
It is not unknown for some divorced couples to live separately under the same roof and thus the children get to see and be with both their parents even though the couple is no longer married.
A parenting plan can be drawn up by one or both parents working together or individually. It can be drawn up by a third party such as a lawyer or counselor or mediator. The plan can be lengthy and go into great detail or it can brief and provide only the essential facts.
The most important factor in creating a parenting plan is the welfare of the child or children. Parents who are selfish or spiteful or lazy are to be condemned if they make a parenting plan to suit their needs and wishes. The best interest of the child is what should determine the detail of the plan.
It’s important to understand that every family is unique and thus every parenting plan needs to be unique. You cannot have a standard plan where one size fits all. Consider the needs of the child, the capabilities of the parents and the logistics of any sharing arrangements.
It is pointless for the parents to seek revenge on the other via the parenting plan. Even if both parties agree, it must be approved by a judge and he or she will make a ruling in the best interest of the child.
Many divorces today are done with little or no legal representation. Couples are advised to at least engage a divorce lawyer to look over any proposed parenting plan. If for no other reason than to check the legality of the document. An experienced lawyer may also see points which could prove difficult to administer or point out issues which have not been included.
The best benefit of a well-drawn up parenting plan is security for the child. A young child can be seriously affected by the sight and sound of parents fighting and then moving apart. At the very least a good parenting plan will give the child security in knowing who they will live with and when any visits will take place.
A well made parenting plan will prevent or greatly reduce arguments down the track. Such disputes may need to go before a court and that will cost the divorced parents money. Avoid such costs by getting the plan right the first time.
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