Father’s day is upon us, so it is an excellent time to discuss the importance of a thoughtful parenting plan. The welfare of the children is a primary concern whenever parents divorce. A thoughtful parenting plan involves the custody of children and the accompanying parental rights as well as the nuts and bolts of a schedule for when the kids are with dad and when they are with mom.
These plans generally change over time as the needs of the children change. While the children should be the priority, the best parenting plans also consider the needs of the parents as well, factoring work schedules and other obligations they may have. The bottom line is that the needs of each family are unique, so there is no one size fits all plan that works for all families.
Issues to consider when drafting a plan
Typically, couples find it most beneficial to determine the details of the plan rather than leaving it up to a judge. Topics to discuss:
- Parenting time: Some couples will seamlessly coparent on a day-to-day basis with the kids in and out of both houses, while others will have defined blocks. Plans should also consider seasonal shifts, vacation schedules, holidays, as well as birthdays and special occasions.
- Decision making authority: Custody normally dictates legal rights to weigh in on decisions to be made unilaterally or in consultation with the other parent. This normally will include education, healthcare, religious observance as well as participation in extra-curricular activities.
- Communication: Parents have a right to know what is going on in regards to health, performance in school and have access to necessary contact information. A method for exchanging information can also be outlined and accompanied by protocols when unexpected issues or emergencies arise.
- Relocation: New York has laws on the limits of parental relocation, but consideration needs to be given if a parent needs to move for work or other reasons.
- Contact with the kids: Depending on the needs of the child, parents should enjoy regular contact with their children even when they are not under the same roof.
- Modifications: There can be protocols for temporary or permanent modifications to the parenting plan that will avoid complications.
Crafting a plan that works for you
An experienced family law attorney can help clients to determine fair and equitable parenting plan that considers foreseeable circumstances while defending all parental rights. Parents with questions, concerns or need to make modifications should contact a lawyer to get answers specific to their circumstances.