Divorce is difficult for every family member who is going through it whether it is the married couple or their children. A litany of concerns will come to the forefront once the couple decides to end the marriage and few are more complex, worrisome and emotionally draining than what will happen with the children. Often, this centers around child custody, but visitation is also imperative. That includes the creation of a parenting plan.
The parents have the option of coming to their own agreement and schedule with determining where the child will live and how the visitation protocol will be handled. If they are on good terms, this is a preferable solution. Unfortunately, many divorces are rife with tension if not outright acrimony and they cannot agree on much, let alone issues related to the child. Regardless, it is imperative to know basic facts about a parenting plan. To be fully protected, it is wise to have professional assistance.
What parents should remember with a parenting plan
When the parenting plan is created, it will detail how the parties will oversee the child’s development, when they will spend time with the child and how important decisions are made. Parents may have unique work circumstances that must be addressed with a parenting plan. There could be certain constraints that must be addressed with it.
For example, if a noncustodial parent has a job that leaves them on the road for extended periods, a typical type of parenting plan where one parent has the child during the school week and the other has the child for perhaps two weekends a month might not be feasible.
Parents can work this out on their own or have the courts assist them. The child could spend much of the school year with the custodial parent and have the summer and school breaks with the other parent. The circumstances and the parents’ relationship factor in with the plan.
The child’s best interests are paramount
The child should be the primary focus. It is generally essential to a child’s development that they have a relationship with both parents if the parents are competent and can provide that care. The child could feel overwhelmed and caught in the middle. Parents should ease their child’s worries and try their best to work together.
The child needs stability, a safe environment, schooling, proper nutrition, extracurricular activities, contact with both parents, the knowledge that the parents are looking out for them, healthcare coverage, protection and an understanding of what the plan means to them.
For parents who are not on the same page and are in dispute, having professional help is vital. If one parent wants the child to have a certain type of religious upbringing but the other does not, there could be a wide gap that must be bridged.
The plan should account for when the child will be with which parent, how the exchanges will occur, who will care for the child when the parents are unable to if there will be a relationship with family members and much more.
Creating an effective parenting plan may require legal help
No matter the state of the relationship between the parents, it is useful to be shielded and have representation to ensure the case is handled appropriately. Often, the couple has sufficient common ground and are on good enough terms that they can cobble together an agreement without court intervention. Experienced guidance is crucial in this situation. If the case does need to go to court, it becomes even more critical to have legal protection.
These situations are always complex, but the best interests of the child must come to the forefront regardless of the child’s age. With a divorce, child custody and a parenting plan in the balance, people should first set out to find competent and helpful representation. This is the first step toward doing whatever possible to achieve an acceptable result to benefit the child above all.