Many of us grew up with a calendar on the refrigerator, on which our parents penciled in our daily schedules for school, extracurricular activities, doctor’s and dentist’s appointments and other events.
It was a valuable tool that helped us know that each day, each week and each month would run as smoothly as possible.
In a divorce, a parenting plan is a document that helps address not only the day-to-day issues of raising a child, but also those “big-picture” items. Like the calendar on the fridge, it helps reassure children that their parents are on top of their needs.
Putting together a parenting plan that works for parents and keeps the child’s best interests at the forefront
By negotiating a parenting plan, you and your ex-spouse come to an agreement, signed by both of you, that addresses schedules, decision-making and other issues important to your child.
This plan can help prevent disagreement and rancor down the road. Moreover, it helps give your child the comfort of knowing what to expect.
In order to be effective and to satisfy the court’s requirement of having the plan be in the best interests of the child, a New York parenting plan should address these issues:
- Parenting time: This is the actual time each parent will spend with their child. If one parent is the custodial parent and the child lives with them more than 50 percent of the time (in which case they have physical custody), the non-custodial parent still gets to spend time with their child. The plan should include with which parent your child will spend holidays, school breaks, weekend arrangements and arrangements for unexpected circumstances.
- Decision-making: In most cases, couples agree that minor, everyday decisions are made by the custodial parent. Major decisions are another matter. If a parent has sole physical and legal custody, then they make all the decisions. It is much more common these days that decisions regarding education, religion, health care, extracurricular activities and discipline are shared. This should be spelled out in the parenting plan.
- Information-sharing: Parents should come to an agreement about sharing information when it comes to school and grades, medical issues and emergency contact information.
- Parental relocation: Should it happen that one parent or the other has to relocate for work, remarriage or other reason, it can have a major impact on your child. If you don’t have a provision for this possibility in your parenting plan, the courts will step in.
Make sure your parenting plan is in your child’s best interests, and yours.
Parenting plans are a vital part of ensuring your child’s well-being after a divorce. Whether you are seeking legal assistance in drafting a parenting plan or want an New York City child custody attorney to review the document before you sign it, we can help.
To schedule a consultation please contact us online or call our office at (212) 349-1600.