A parenting plan can be one of the most important documents you will have. This plan outlines every specific requirement and rule that you and your child’s other parent must follow. Without a plan in place, there is little one can do to enforce parenting time or have the help from law enforcement. If you have a child and you are not currently with the other parent, you need to make sure you have a parenting plan put in place and filed with the superior court. Here are some important tips and considerations:
Hire an attorney to draft the plan
This is the most important piece of advice. There are a number of websites that provide parenting plan forms, including directly from the superior court website. However, these forms are usually vague and missing important details. An attorney will know what types of details should be included to ensure that your parenting plan runs smoothly until your child is 18. You do not want to end up in court every year trying to adjust and modify your plan because it was drafted improperly to begin with.
Parenting plans need to be detailed
Your parenting plan should be extremely detailed. Even if you and the other parent are getting a long, you always want to have specific details. For example, some parents have a child who decides on their own which parent they feel like staying with for the week. Those parents decide to write out that it is in the child’s discretion as to whom the child spends time with. This may work for an older child. However, this can cause serious problems with a younger child. Imagine if the child is 12 and decides they want to stay with mom, and then they do not come back to see dad. Dad could go without parenting time for days or even months due to the language of the plan. You always want the detailed language as a fall back plan, even if you are working amicably in the present. Things happen, and you and your ex may not be getting along so great in the future.
Other important details to include
In addition to a specific parenting time schedule, you’ll want to include other important details in the parenting plan. For example, you should include a specific holiday schedule with dates and times. Other items to include will be transportation provisions and communication forms. The parenting plan can include a number of other items that you believe to be important, as well.
Think of the what if’s and include them
You always want to think of the what if situations. For example, what if your ex decides to go out of town during their parenting time and leave your child with a babysitter for a week. Likely, you would want to have parenting time with your child during that time. You would need a stipulation in there to protect you in that situation. There can be hundreds of what if scenarios. Think of those that are most important to you, and be sure to include a provision in the parenting plan.
What if the court creates my parenting plan after a hearing?
If you are not able to settle on all of the issues with your ex, you’ll often end up going to court and the judge will create a parenting plan for you. The problem with this is that it is never exactly what you want. Additionally, all of those details you wanted likely will not be included. This is more reason for you and your ex to try and come to an agreement on all issues. You will end up much happier with your parenting plan if you get to draft the provisions, opposed to the court drafting it for you.