Creating Temporary Parenting Plans
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.
If you are filing for divorce, you need a temporary parenting plan in place that outlines which parent has custody of the children as well as a visitation schedule for the other parent.
A parenting plan of some kind is generally required as part of the custody order in divorce proceedings. A temporary parenting plan differs from a permanent parenting plan because of the length of time it is applicable to your family.
Temporary plans cover the time from when you file for custody and the judge makes a final decision on custody. The plan is filed with the court and is in effect until the permanent plan is adopted. Both parents will have a copy of the plan, as well as any attorneys.
There are many places to get information on different types of temporary parenting plans, but most of them contain the same basic advice when it comes to introducing change to your children.
Because there is so much stress and conflict related to divorce, experts recommend keeping your children in a familiar routine in a familiar home until all the details of permanent custody can be worked out.
Judges are most likely to approve temporary parenting plans that show that the best interests of the children are being met. Therefore, a temporary parenting plan should put their physical and emotional needs before those of the parents.
A temporary parenting plan should include a schedule that outlines where your children will live on any day of the week, as well as designate who is legally allowed to make decisions for the children. It is intended to provide for the immediate future, while you and the other parent work out a more permanent parenting plan to take effect in the long term.
Here are some things your temporary parenting plan must include:
- Primary residence. This indicates where the children will be living most of the time and which of you will be designated as the temporary custodial parent.
- Visitation schedule. A temporary visitation schedule outlines when the non-custodial parent will be allowed parenting time with the children. Depending on the ages, this can be for a few hours every day or other day for young children, to every weekend or alternating weekends for older children.
- Holiday and vacation schedules. This outlines where the children will spend each holiday and when set vacation times will occur.
- Decision-making capabilities. Depending on the type of custody, you can be awarded sole legal custody or joint legal custody. Sole custody allows one parent to make decisions, while joint requires input from both parents.
- Dispute resolutions. When you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting aspect, you must decide how you will resolve these disputes. Outline the steps to how you will approach mediation or other third-party officiator.
- Any other important details. This information can include anything from agreeing on discipline procedures for children to dating conduct for you or the other parent. Anything you feel is important in parenting your children should be included in the temporary parenting plan.
Whether you and the other parent are working together on a plan, or you are creating one on your own, be sure to cover all of these topics in detail. In order for the court to accept your temporary plan, you must show how your plan serves the children's best interests.
Ideally, you and the other parent should create the temporary parenting plan because you know your children best. When both parents present a plan to the court that they both agree on, it signals that the children's interests are likely being met.
If you and the other parent cannot agree upon a parenting plan, you both may come up with a temporary parenting plan of your own to present. Make sure the other parent has a copy of your plan. A judge will review both plans and make decisions based on that information.
Attorneys can also help draw up a temporary parenting plan because they are familiar with some of the issues the courts are focused on when it comes to protecting the welfare of children. If nobody can agree on a temporary parenting plan, a judge will often fall back on a basic custody plan put together by a state agency as a fair and equal plan.
There are many custody software programs, such as Custody X Change, that provide parenting plan templates for all kinds of situations, from temporary sole custody to permanent joint custody plans. The software is easy to use and prints out your results so others can review it.
There are numerous considerations that go into what the court wants to see in your temporary parenting plan, but ultimately it should represent the best interests of the children involved. So how do you, the other parent and the court determine what is in your children's best interests?
Here are a few questions that the court wants to see answers for when reviewing a temporary parenting plan:
- Which parent did the children spent the most time when the parents were together?
- Which parent performed most of the core parenting duties, such as meals, doctor appointments and school management?
- Which parent's home is closest to the children's school or day care?
- How far apart are the parent's homes from each other, for visitation purposes?
- What is the quality of the children's relationship with each parent?
- What reasons, if any, exist to limit one parent's time with the children?
After considering these factors, as well as several others unique to your family, the court will agree to a plan that introduces the least change for your children. Generally, this temporary parenting plan contributes heavily in the creation of your permanent parenting plan.
When you want to present your temporary parenting plan to the court, create it using Custody X Change software. Besides providing comprehensive plan templates, the software allows you to print the plan out to submit to your attorney and to the courts.
With a temporary parenting plan, visitations allow children to spend quality time with the non-custodial parent and should be scheduled to match the previous level of interaction as closely as possible. Visitation schedules should also be age appropriate for all the children involved.
Here are 4 examples of visitation schedules under a temporary parenting plan based on the children's age:
- Infant through toddler. This age group needs shorter and more frequent visitations, so plan on a few hours every other day in a familiar location, such as the child's residence or a favorite playground, for example. Very young children should not be away from their primary caretaker for more overnights, as a general rule.
- Preschool through early elementary. Children at this age vary widely in what they can handle. One schedule may include two weeknights and one weekend day. Some children might have trouble with one overnight visit per week while others may be fine spending every other weekend away from the primary caretaker. Introduce change slowly.
- Late elementary through junior high. This age group is often the most flexible when it comes to visitations and overnights are usually not a problem. Several nights per week and every other weekend is a common schedule, as is weekdays at home and weekends away. Communicate with your children to understand what they are capable of handling.
- High school. As your children age, they become more involved in activities and relationships outside the family, such as jobs or dating. Many teens want to be with friends more than parents, so schedule some independent time between visits. Setting aside a few shorter but more frequent visitation times may fit a teen's schedule best.
Custody X Change software allows you to create a color-coded schedule that you can print out for quick reference and also upload to your mobile devices. That way, you and the other parent are completely clear on where your children will be and when.
The easiest way to gauge a temporary parenting plan's effectiveness is to keep a parenting journal that records the ups and downs of your newly formed family. Many parents find it helpful to review how successful the temporary parenting plan is before agreeing to a more permanent plan.
Custody X Change software includes an electronic journal feature that allows you to quickly record notes, then attaches them to a specific time and day. Later, you can print out all the journal notes into a report for easy viewing.
Some of the things you might consider recording are:
- When you or the other parent are late for pick-up or drop-off
- When you or the other parent miss a visitation
- When your children are forced to miss an activity because of you or the other parent
- The attitudes and temperament of your children before, during and after a visit
- Track actual parenting time versus what is scheduled
When you keep a parenting journal using Custody X Change, it can automatically print out a comparison report that reveals your actual parenting time versus the scheduled parenting time. Large discrepancies may be a signal that your current schedule is not sufficient.