Many divorced parents will tell you that one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process is coming up with a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the children without damaging any familial relationships. In some cases, a parent may lose sight of what is important and instead focus on punishing the other parent by keeping the child away from them as much as possible. However, assuming that both parents are willing and able to care for the child, both parents should remain involved in the child’s life as much as possible after the divorce. A successful parenting plan will require parents to put petty differences aside and focus on the child’s needs when determining child custody.
What should be included in my parenting plan?
The goal of a parenting plan is to allocate parental rights and responsibilities. A parenting plan will focus on two main areas including decision-making and parenting time. In shared parenting circumstances, both parents will be responsible for making decisions relating to the child’s upbringing, health, and education. In sole residential situations, only one parent will be in charge of making these decisions.
There will also be a parenting time schedule in place, specifying how much time and when each parent will care for the child. However, shared parenting does not necessarily mean the parents will share an equal amount of time with the child. The schedule will be determined after considering a number of factors, including:
- Location of the residence of each parent
- Childcare arrangements (if necessary)
- Pick-up/drop-off arrangements/transportation
- The age, health, and needs of the child
- Each parent’s relationship with the child
- Parental fitness (e.g. substance abuse issues, domestic violence)
- The parents’ ability to communicate and cooperate with each other
Coming to an agreement on a parenting plan
Ideally, parents will be able to come to an understanding and agree to the terms of the parenting plan, with the help of their attorneys. If they are unable to agree, the court will make the decision for them. In any case, the final parenting plan will have to be approved by the court before it becomes a court order that must be followed by both parents.
Even in the most civil divorces, coming up with a parenting plan that is fair to both parents and in the best interests of the child can be challenging. A family law attorney in Ohio can help come up with the best arrangement for your family.