What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents who share children but do not live together. Anytime there is a divorce or custody case, the parents will be required by the courts to make a parenting plan. At the very least, it establishes how much time the children will spend with each parent and how they will make decisions regarding their children. It can also be extremely detailed.
Whether it is part of an official legal action or a private, good will agreement between parties, a parenting plan is an important aspect of any coparenting relationship.
Why Make a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan will be ordered by a judge as part of any divorce or custody dispute in court. It can be created by the parents together or with the help of an attorney or mediator. It is then filed and becomes legally enforceable.
If the parents are on good terms and can agree on how they will approach coparenting, creating a parenting plan is still a smart move. This can be a gesture of commitment to coparenting and proof of what was agreed upon should the parties disagree in the future.
A parenting plan helps both parents feel involved and provides the children and parents with a clear idea of what to expect. It lays out a regular visitation schedule and ensures each parent’s right to their allocated time with the kids. Should a conflict arise between the parents, the parenting plan could even dictate how it will be solved. It can be a tool for stress reduction in a potentially emotional and contentious situation.
Aspects of a Parenting Plan
The parenting plan can be as detailed as the parents wish. Beyond a basic determination of minimum parenting time, a parenting plan can also address:
• Plans for school breaks, holidays, birthdays, summers and vacations
• Information sharing and access
• Communication with one another and the children
• Safety issues
• Conflict resolution
• Sports and extracurricular activities
• Relocation (as in one parent may not move more than a certain number of miles away without court approval)
The parenting plan should be unique to the people making it. To be fully beneficial the parents must take the ages and schedules of the children into consideration.
Distance will greatly affect the way custody is worked out and should be included in the parenting plan. If parents live near one another, they may need to determine how they will share far more of the regular tasks the children require. The time spent with each parent could be more complicated in this scenario too. For example, parents in the same area could allow the non-custodial parent to have a certain number of weeknight dinners with the children to lessen the amount of time they go without seeing them.
When the parents live more than 60 miles apart a long-distance parenting plan would be appropriate. This might address some of the unique challenges presented by such a living situation, like where the parents will meet for pickup and drop offs or how they will share the travel time and costs associated with long trips between parents.
Any other circumstance can be addressed in the parenting plan. Again, plans can be simple but also quite complex when considering distance, special needs, safety concerns and anything else that applies to the children and parents.
Contact an Oregon Family Law Attorney for Help
Tools for creating your own parenting plan exist online but family law attorney can also help and make sure that the best interests of your children are represented in your parenting plan. If you are facing a divorce or custody dispute the team at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP can answer your questions and determine what you will need to do to protect your rights as a parent.
As dedicated divorce lawyers, we have many years of experience handling all types of family law cases,