Parenting Plans – seek engagement of an expert attorney for common sense approach
A parenting plan is a useful collaborative contract in regard to the parenting arrangements agreed to by parents at the end of a relationship.
In this instance it is also important to note that it is not exclusive to divorce proceedings but can be applied to un-couplings and indeed also to relationships where the parents have never lived together in one household or at all.
In the event that a parenting plan is agreed to it is apposite to note that a parenting plan has greater impact in law when it has been made an order of a competent court than when it has only been registered with the Family Advocate’s Office.
Thus, it is imperative that an expert such as an attorney specializing in family law be engaged to attend to, inter alia, the consultations, drafting of and registration of parenting plans.
Competent, thoughtful and skilled drafting of legal documents is a pre-requisite for any legal agreement that is reduced to writing and these attributes are only acquired through years of knowledge and experience gained in the practice of law.
In cases where a divorce has already been decreed, a parenting plan can still be drafted thereafter and registered with the Family Advocate’s Office following the engagement and attendance of the attorney who is an expert is such matters as this provides the clients with an assurance that the matter will be dealt with professionally.
It is important to comply with the applicable law and standard documentation prescribed by law.
Various terms must be documented in regard to, inter alia, living arrangements, maintenance and parental contact and so forth with the pertinent issues being inter alia:
- where and with whom the child(ren) is(are) to live;
- how responsibility for the maintenance of the child(ren) is to be divided;
- contact arrangements in regard to the child(ren);
- daily routines;
- behavioural aspects;
- provisions regarding mutual respect and co-operation;
- frequency of communications;
- provisions in regard to schooling and religious upbringing of the child(ren).
Most if not all of the material issues in regard to the above will be included the parties settlement agreement, in the event of a divorce, with a parenting plan providing slightly more detail in that regard. Once the plan is finalized and signed by both parents, it becomes a legally binding agreement inter partes.
Upon filing with the Family Advocate’s Office, the agreement will be perused and considered in various respects and recommendations may be made if necessary and the parties can apply for the plan to be made an order of the court.
It is apposite to understand that there is no one type fits all parenting plan or set list of terms in regard to a parenting plan.
Equally important is that the parties to the parenting plan are permitted by law to re-assess the parenting plan from time to time to adapt to changing circumstances and life events.
There is also no need to go overboard in regard to the particularity of the terms of parenting plans such as the brushing of the child(ren)’s hair, clothes to be worn and styling thereof, lacing of shoes, etc etc as these are within the individual parents discretion in terms of their views on life and the child(ren)’s feelings, which are in a constant state of flux.