Preparing a Parenting Plan for Court
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
A parenting plan, a document that outlines how you and the other parent will raise your children, is required by family courts as part of your divorce proceedings. The parenting plan allows parents to resolve disagreements and document your agreements on parenting.
The parenting plan must be included with your petition for divorce. Family courts prefer parents to create a comprehensive parenting plan that includes a visitation schedule, custody statements and methods to resolve disagreements. Since parents know their children best, the courts feel they will be able to create a plan that meets their children's needs.
If you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting plan, the family court will take steps to create a plan for you. If you and the other parent cannot submit a parenting plan together, or two plans separately, the court may appoint a third party to do so.
Before you sit down to create a parenting plan for court, you and the other parent must be familiar with what a parenting plan includes and what the family court wants from your parenting plan.
The more detailed your parenting plan is, the better it will be as a tool to allocate parenting responsibilities and duties. The family court wants to see how your plan will create a stable, supportive environment for your children. The plan that best meets your children's physical and emotional needs will be approved.
A parenting plan may have specific obligations and conditions, including:
- Education plans for each child
- Child care details
- Legal custody details
- Physical custody details
- College expense responsibilities
- Health care details
- Extracurricular activities for children
- Visitation schedule, including vacations and holidays
- Child support payment details and schedule
- Steps on how disagreements will be resolved
Many parents find it useful to use custody software, such as Custody X Change, which provides parenting plan templates that cover a range of topics. You can customize the parenting plan to create one that suits your unique family.
The biggest mistake you can make when preparing a parenting plan for court is to put your needs or the other parent's needs ahead of your children. The family court wants to see a parenting plan that shows you and the other parent are working together to accommodate what is in your children's best interests.
There are other mistakes to avoid when preparing a parenting plan for court:
- Creating a plan that is too vague in most areas
- Failure to include guidelines for medical care and how the costs for care will be divided
- Forgetting to specify what happens when one parent chooses to relocate
- Neglecting to put restrictions on travel, whether interstate or international
- Leaving out provisions on how to handle disagreements or disputes
Keep the preparations centered on the children's needs, and get a checklist that outlines the important topics you should consider. Custody X Change software can guide you through every aspect of creating a proper parenting plan so you are ready for court.
Ideally, you and the other parent will work together to prepare a parenting plan for court, but you can make a plan yourself if you can't get the other parent to cooperate.
The family court will adopt the best plan for the children, so if yours shows the children's needs are adequately met, you may get your plan implemented despite what the other parent wants.
Here are 10 things a family court judge will assess about your parenting plan:
- Your children's age and maturity
- Your financial ability to care for your children.
- Each parent's physical, mental and emotional health
- Proximity to the children's established schools, religious organizations and other routine activities
- Proximity to extended family, such as grandparents
- Either parent's intentions on plans to leave the area
- Both parent's preferences for custody
- Each child's preference on custody, if over a certain age
- Any legal trouble or misconduct by either of you
- Whether either of you has a history of interfering with visitation
Use a custody software such as Custody X Change to prepare a clear, comprehensive and readable parenting plan for the court. A detailed plan that meets the children's needs has a better chance of approval than a vague and poorly prepared one.
Either parent can prepare a parenting plan to present in court. If the other parent submits a plan but you do not, the court may approve that plan, leaving you without much input on raising your children. It's always a benefit to prepare a parenting plan either on your own or with the other parent.
If you have completely different ideas on child raising than the other parent, you can both submit a parenting plan version to the court. The plan that seems to best represent the children's needs will be the one approved.
If neither plan meets the court's approval, a third party may be appointed to work out a parenting plan. Family courts prefer parents that decide custody schedules and parenting plans on their own. When parents can't agree on a plan, it results in time, money and heartache for everyone involved.
Custody X Change software can be a helpful tool for you and the other parent as you try to work out a parenting plan. It gives you a good neutral place to start and forces discussion on all aspects of a parenting plan.
Ultimately, the court wants to see a parenting plan that is thoughtful, detailed and developmentally healthy for the children involved, so utilize every tip you can on preparing a parenting plan for court. The more prepared you are, the more successful you plan can be.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you are preparing a parenting plan for court:
- Recognize that the plan will be a legal document that helps you share the time, responsibilities and financial obligations of raising your children
- Give the plan enough detail to be useful, but enough flexibility to be realistic
- Schedule an annual review of the parenting plan during the first few years of implementation
- Be honest about your parenting strengths and weaknesses, then base the plan on how those qualities will meet your children's needs
- Do research into the child custody laws for your state as well as child development issues during and after divorce to tailor the plan to meet your children's ages and stages
Custody X Change software makes it easier to create a court-ready parenting plan that is clear, detailed and revisable during your annual review. You can print out the document at any time using Custody X Change software.