Importance of Parenting Plans in the Divorce Process
In Georgia, a parenting plan is required by the court whenever parents get a divorce or
legal separation. A parenting plan serves to take the guesswork out of the parenting process by helping parents avoid future conflicts that would arise from having a lack of guidelines. This type of plan clearly explains each parent's duties and responsibilities towards their children after the divorce occurs. Having these guidelines mapped out can help prevent or minimize future conflicts that could arise between the parents over these topics.
To learn more about creating a parenting plan, a Lawrenceville divorce attorney from the Fox Firm, P.C. can assist you with this sensitive matter. We serve clients throughout Gwinnett County, Georgia, as well as the surrounding areas.
What does a parenting plan cover?
The decision of when parents must submit a parenting plan is completely up to the judge's discretion. This type of arrangement will address a number of vital issues, which can include:
- Physical custody of the child (where the child will live)
- Legal custody of the child (who will have decision-making rights over the child's life)
- Transportation arrangements
- Payment of child support
- Vacations and school breaks
- Visitation schedules (including overnight visits)
- A parent's contact with a child when the child is in the other parent's custody
- Contact with relatives and partners
- Medical insurance and health care
- School functions
- Social activities
- A dispute resolution process
An attorney can help you create a parenting plan that reflects your goals for your parenting arrangement. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the parenting arrangement, then the court will ask that each parent file a separate proposed plan. If you are in this situation and fail to submit a this document by the designated date, the judge will adopt your spouse's plan as long as that it is found to meet the child's best interests. Another way to resolve disagreements over a parenting plan is to participate in mediation or arbitration. In mediation, a neutral third party (such as a lawyer) helps two individuals reach a mutual agreement through a non-binding process. In arbitration, both parties present evidence and testimony to a third party, who ultimately makes a binding decision.
In every case, a judge will make a decision based on what he or she believes is in the best interests of the child. Having an attorney during the parenting plan creation process is absolutely critical. We will be able to help you create a reasonable and effective plan to present to the court. Having your parenting arrangement well-thought-out in advance will give you the best chances of having the courts make a decision in your favor. It can also help you facilitate a faster and smoother divorce process, which can end up saving you time and money while helping you avoid unnecessary additional stress.
Parenting plans must make several recognitions, unless a judge orders otherwise. According to Georgia law (under O.C.G.A. §19-9-1), the plans should recognize the following points.
- Having a close and continuing relationship between parent and the child, as well as having general continuity in his or her life, in the child's best interest.
- As the child matures, his or her needs will change. This should be taken into account in order to minimize future modifications to the plan.
- The parent who has physical custody of the child will make day-to-day and emergency decisions while having the child in his or her care.
- Both parents will be able to access the child's records and information, such as for the areas of health, education, religious communications and extracurricular activities.
Turning to a Divorce Attorney You Can Trust
When you are dealing with such a delicate and emotionally sensitive issue as child custody and visitation, you owe it to yourself and to your children to secure high-quality legal representation from someone you can trust. At the Fox Firm, P.C., attorney Douglas N. Fox draws from more than 16 years of experience in the field of family law when advising and representing his clients. Over the years, he has helped numerous parents develop powerful parenting plans that were accepted by the courts.
Having a strong parenting plan in place can help you maintain more control over the future of you and your family, rather than letting a judge who doesn't fully understand your family dynamics make all the decisions for you. We urge you to contact us today so we can start helping you create your parenting plan, one that illustrates your goals and wishes for your child after your divorce.