In almost all divorce cases in which child custody is an issue, each party shall submit a parenting plan, or the parties may choose to submit a parenting plan jointly. The only exception to this rule is when a parent seeks emergency relief for family violence. In basic terms, a parenting plan sets forth how the parties will proceed in all decisions and situations related to the child. Unless otherwise ordered by a judge, the parenting plan should include the following:
- A recognition that a close and continuing parent-child relationship and continuity in the child’s life will be in the child’s best interests;
- A recognition that a parent with physical custody of the child will make the day-to-day decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with such parent;
- That both parents will have access to all of the child’s records and information;
- Where and when a child will be in each parent’s physical care, designating where the child will spend each day of the year;
- How holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent with each parent including the time of day that each event will begin and end;
- Transportation arrangements including how the child will be exchanged between the parties, the location of the exchange, how the transportation costs will be paid, and any other matter relating to the child spending time with each parent;
- Whether supervision will be needed for any parenting time and, if so, the particulars of the supervision;
- Any limitations and allocations of decision-making authority that exists while one parent has physical custody of the child. This would include the other parent contacting the child and access to education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious information.
This list is not all-inclusive and may also include any specific situation that either party believes is important to the parenting plan. As previously stated, both parties can work jointly to submit a parenting plan to the court together. If the parties cannot agree on a joint plan, then each party shall file a proposed parenting plan on his or her own. It is important to note that if a party fails to submit a parenting plan, this may result in the judge adopting the plan submitted by the opposing party if the judge determines that this plan is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, it is extremely important not to miss the chance to submit a parenting plan if a party would like the judge to consider his or her wishes when making a final decision.
The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum will work with you and if possible, the other parent, in order to develop a parenting plan that meets the needs of all parties and children involved in the case. We will work diligently to ensure that this parenting plan is then agreed upon and ordered into effect by the judge.