Divorce can be harder on the children than the parents. Not only do they need to process that their parents aren’t together anymore, they also may be unsure of their future living arrangements or if they will even be able to see their other parent again. By drawing up a parenting plan in the early stages of your separation, you can eliminate the uncertainty of what will happen after the divorce and give your children stability and a plan for the future.
Parenting plans can be a legally binding part of your separation agreement or completely informal. The advantage of a legally binding parenting plan is that you can appeal to the courts if either spouse breaks the rules. If your parenting plan is solely built on trust and a handshake, you may regret it down the line. Either way, a parenting plan should be written with the best interests of the children in mind, as the rights of children are always protected in a divorce or separation.
It should be noted that parenting plans are not a legal necessity in a separation or divorce. Their purpose is to eliminate uncertainty and provide both parents and children with a solid framework they can use to work through any child custody issues that may arise in the future.
What Should We Include in Our Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans should lay out all rules, agreements, and court orders regarding the children’s welfare. They should include:
- Custody information (joint, shared, or sole), with details of who makes important decisions, education, religion, etc.
- A comprehensive access schedule laying out all parental visitation rights
- Holiday access
- Travel restrictions
- Moving restrictions
- Method of communication between the parents
- A framework to address disagreements about parenting issues
Although it might seem like child support arrangements should be included in a parenting plan, this is actually negotiated separately. Split custody child support payments can be calculated with our Child Support Calculator (LINK).
There are many aspects of a comprehensive parenting plan, some of them requiring detailed legal knowledge. By working with an experienced family law lawyer, you can guarantee that your plan will be legally sound.
How Do We Go About Create a Parenting Plan?
The most common way to develop a parenting plan is to have your family lawyer negotiate it for you. With your guidance, each spouse’s lawyer will fight for their client’s concerns and desires, eventually drafting a parenting plan that can hopefully be agreed to by both spouses.
Developing a parenting plan together can require a level of trust and cooperation between spouses that may be absent during a separation. If this is the case, you can choose arbitration, where a neutral third party will draft a parenting plan based on the circumstances of the divorce and your relationship with the children. This parenting plan would be legally binding.
Another option would be for each spouse to draw up their own parenting plan which will then be submitted to a judge in a court of law. The judge picks which plan they believe will best suit the children’s interests and make it into a legally binding court order.
In every situation, it is vitally important that you have a family lawyer there protecting your rights and those of your children.
Developing a parenting plan can be one of the most important steps you can take to give your children a sense of stability during a divorce. Baidwan & Baidwan Lawyers LLP is a full-service law firm that specializes in family, criminal, and real estate law.
Our family lawyers can help you draft a working plan that will reflect the best interests of your children. We understand the logistical and emotional difficulties that can play into developing a parenting plan and will do whatever we can to assist in developing a plan that will work for you, your spouse, and your children.
For a family lawyer in Brampton call 905-230-8888 for an initial consultation.