One of the main priorities of any divorcing parent is to figure out how to create a parenting plan that best supports the child’s development and allows each parent sufficient time and input in the child’s life. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these agreements because the needs of each child and the circumstances of each family differ.
The most important aspect of any parenting plan is that it includes terms the parents can follow without constant conflict. This is often easier said than done due to the strong emotions involved after divorce. The court expects parents to make a genuine attempt to settle matters on their own, and while a family law judge must approve any plan, the specifics should be worked out between the parents. Courts do not have the capacity to fully analyze and understand the unique dynamics of a family, so any parenting plan created by a judge will be somewhat standard and generic as a result. This risks future litigation to enforce or modify the parenting agreement, a situation that is detrimental to the child’s well-being.
Parenting Plan Checklist
The main issues parents negotiating a parenting plan must settle are how to allocate parenting time and decision-making authority. Custody and visitation are no longer the standards in child-related matters, and the law is more focused on creating an arrangement that allows for a more collaborative approach to co-parenting.
Parenting time refers to how often a parent provides childcare. It must be established how key decisions related to the child will be made, such as school enrollment, medical treatment, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. How much time a child is in a parent’s care will depend on the child’s age and the circumstances of the family. Some children will spend a roughly equal amount of time with each parent, while others will primarily live with one and see the other on scheduled days. These two areas cover the minimum that must be addressed in a parenting plan.
Creating Effective Parenting Plans
In addition to the issues mentioned above, another important aspect is a plan for resolving disputes. This allows for easier review and modifications to the plan over time. To better supplement the basic structure, a holiday, birthday, and vacation schedule should be developed. Other potential issues to address include the amount of time the child is permitted to watch television or be on the computer, the age at which the child should receive a cell phone, and how parents will handle disciplinary issues. Finally, provisions related to the introduction of a parent’s new romantic partner to the child is another possible consideration.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Family Law Attorney
Parenting issues are often a source of bitter disagreement, but if these matters are decided in advance through a parenting plan, conflict can be avoided. These agreements are complicated and must be approved by a judge before they become enforceable. For skilled assistance, trust the dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group when drafting or modifying a parenting plan. Our years of experience will help you develop the best possible plan for your child. Contact us today at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.