Parenting Plan (Part 1)

Divorces and separations are hard decisions to make and in most cases very emotionally impactful. Relationships are usually built on hope and trust and are a part of everyday life. No one gets into a relationship with the intention of it ending after all the time and effort put into it, especially when children are involved. If and when that unfortunate day comes, there are many issues that are to be taken into consideration.

Whether you were a partner in a marriage or a common law relationship, as long as children are involved, you will need a parenting plan. Decisions like where the children will live and how much time each parent will be allowed with the child are all important issues that need to be addressed between the adults sooner rather than later.

A parenting plan, also known as a separation or paternity agreement ensures that both parents’ rights are protected. If both parents can come to an arrangement, they may be able to forgo the court process. This agreement has to be written and signed by both parties. It is advisable though to have a professional and reputable family lawyer to represent each parent’s rights individually; meaning each parent should have a separate lawyer in order to have their individual rights and concerns legally represented.

Custody is the most important factor in separation and divorce that immediately affects a child. Decisions concerning major influences that will shape and guide a child, like religion, health care decisions, education, and even the child’s legal name are the fundamental rights concerned with custody. It is a common misconception that custody is primarily about where the child lives. It is not. You may have instances where a child lives with their mother but has equal time with the other parent or both parents have custody but the child lives primarily with the father.

There are different types of custody. It is very important that the best interests of the child are served first and foremost. Speaking with an experienced lawyer from the Zeidman Law Offices can help put many things into perspective.

Sometimes even though parents are no longer together, they still have an amicable relationship where they can seamlessly agree on issues that will impact their child. Joint custody is heavily dependent on both parents being like-minded in the core value process of raising a child. This works in a variety of ways like parents agreeing to make individual decisions on specific areas (for example, one parent can be responsible for medical decisions while another for religious teachings).

Sole custody is where one parent makes all the major decisions concerning the child. You may have instances where they are legally bound to inform the other parent of certain issues that may arise, but ultimately the decision is theirs. When sole custody is awarded, the other parent can be awarded Access to the child.

There are different types of Access.

Reasonable Access allows a flexible situation where the time spent with the child is not rigorously scheduled. A parent can arrange meetings on a whim and see the child whenever they desire.

Fixed Access has a more defined schedule where weekends, holidays, birthdays and other occasion are pre-arranged to grant access to a parent.

Supervised Access is where a parent can only have access to a child with another adult (family member, social worker or friend) physically present during the visitation. A parent’s access may need to be supervised for many reasons such as abuse, psychological problems or any other illegal acts that have been committed against the child.

No Access is a very literal term used when a parent has no contact whatsoever with a child. This can be granted where the child’s safety and well-being is threatened.

A parenting plan covers many more key issues that we will discuss in a follow-up piece. Our goal is to enlighten you freely on issues that may directly affect you when it comes to family law. Call us today or fill out our free and confidential form online and allow us to help you through this entire process.