The document that governs the relationship between two parents and their children following a divorce or separation is called a parenting plan. It can address the children’s education, how they will receive healthcare, and the division of custody and parental responsibilities. The parenting plan also sets forth a schedule of when the child(ren) will be with each parent. When either approving or modifying a parenting plan, a court will always give the highest consideration to what is in the child’s or children’s best interests.
If you are about to get divorced or separated or were previously divorced, and one or more minor children are involved, it may be wise to speak with a Fairfield County parenting plan lawyer today. A custody attorney could work on your behalf to develop a parenting plan (or modify an existing plan) that balances everybody’s needs and expectations. It is important to retain the services of experienced legal counsel on this matter as an approved parenting plan will play a major role in the relationship with your children and their other parent.
When parents of minor children divorce or separate, developing a solid parenting plan could help minimize the disruptive aspects that terminating a marriage may have on immediate family members. With the help of a Fairfield County family law attorney, parents can be assured that a well-drafted parenting plan can be highly effective at preventing conflicts that otherwise could arise in the future. Here is a brief look at just some of the issues that a parenting plan might address:
Determining where the children will live is physical custody. In the event of divorce or separation, the parents may agree to have their children split time with them approximately equally, or have them live primarily with one parent while granting generous visitation time with the other.
“Legal custody” refers to the right to make major decisions that impact the children’s lives. According to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-56a(b), there is a state law presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the children. Sole legal custody when only one parent has major decision-making authority is generally reserved for exceptional circumstances involving substance or physical abuse.
A contentious issue that frequently arises between co-parents is where their children will spend major holidays, birthdays, school vacations, and other special occasions. Fortunately, these matters can be addressed early on in a parenting plan so both parents are able to set their expectations in advance.
While a parenting plan is an enforceable legal document, that does not mean that it cannot be altered. Changed circumstances, either in the child’s life or the lives of the parents, may be sufficient basis for obtaining a parenting plan modification. This typically follows a two-step process:
Modifying a parenting plan requires a judicial determination that there has been a material change in circumstances affecting the best interests of the child and/or analysis as to what is in the “best interests” of the child as of the current time. Examples of types of changes that would qualify are numerous and would encompass everything from changes in the child’s educational and/or emotional needs to changes in each parent’s ability to effectively co-parent and/or meet the needs of the child. The key factor is not so much the nature of the change itself, but rather the ultimate effect the change has on the child(ren) and on things related to the children, the parents, and their parenting relationship and abilities.
If a judge determines that a change in circumstances has, in fact, occurred, the parent seeking the modification and their Fairfield County family lawyer may propose a modified plan arguing that it conforms with the best interests of the child standard.
A parenting plan is an essential element of a co-parenting relationship when a couple decides to divorce or separate and as they continue post-divorce as co-parents to their child(ren). Ideally, a parenting plan fosters cooperation, establishes expectations, and promotes the well-being of the children. Contact a Fairfield County parenting plan lawyer today to learn more about this critical aspect of the divorce or separation process.