What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan outlines how you and your Ex will co-parent. It should include the child’s living arrangements, outline rules for holidays, travel, healthcare, education, religion, and any other relevant topics. It is meant to guide your parenting and keep you both on the same page as to how your child will be raised. Check out this blog post for a detailed guide on what your parenting plan should include. It can be an informal plan that you come up with together, it can be a detailed plan that you file with your separation agreement, or it could be a court order. No matter how well you plan and think a head there may come a time where it is necessary to make changes to the parenting plan. Things such as a job change, income change, relocating, and remarrying, will warrant a review of your parenting plan.
If you and your Ex are on good terms and have a strong co-parenting relationship you may have a flexible verbal or written plan. In this situation you ideally include the process for making changes to the plan in your agreement. This may just involve sitting down and discussing the changes or could involve more elaborate processes. If you are unable to negotiate changes on your own you could seek out help from a mediator or arbitrator. A mediator will listen each of you and offer a solution they think is reasonable and in the best interests of the child. An arbitrator will do the same but there decision will not be a suggestion it will be the required action. For more information about negotiation techniques check out this past post. There is also the option of going to court but with an informal agreement this becomes more difficult. In order to have the court recognize your agreement you have to complete Form 26B: Affidavit for Filing Domestic Contract or Paternity Agreement with the Court. You can access Form 26B here. This tells the court that the agreement exists and has been in effect even though it has not yet been recognized by the courts. You must sign the affidavit in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits. There are staff at all family court offices who can perform this tasks. Once you’ve completed this process you can bring your case to court and ask the judge to make the decision about whether or not to amend your agreement. Keep in mind that the judge will put what is best for the child ahead of all else and will make the changes that they see are best not just the ones you request. Whenever making changes to your parenting plan ensure that you are putting your child first, the plan is in place to make sure that they grow up in a healthy and conflict free environment.
A separation agreement outlines the terms of your separation which includes rules for co-parenting and the living arrangements for your children. If you do not yet have a separation agreement in place you can create one with thistoo.
During your divorce process you will file your separation agreement along with Form 26B: Affidavit for Domestic Contract. For more information about the divorce process and to access the form click here. Within your separation agreement you can include details about co-parenting and your children. You can also create a separate parenting plan document that outlines all of the rules and guidelines for co-parenting and raising your children. In doing so the parenting plan becomes legally binding and can be enforced by the court. You can negotiate the changes yourself but will have to resubmit them to the court in order for them to be enforceable. If you are unable to come to an agreement on your own seeking help from a mediator or arbitrator are recommended before you take it to court.
If the aspects of your parenting plan that you're trying to amend are court ordered such as child support, and custody, you will need to have a judge okay the changes. To request a change you need to go to the court office and make a motion to change. This is necessary whether or not you and your Ex agree on the changes. You will need to attend court and explain to the court what circumstances have changed and why you want to amend your agreement. If you and your Ex do not agree on the changes you will each present your case and the judge will decide what is best for the child under the new circumstances. You can consult or hire a lawyer for this or represent yourself. If you are representing yourself check out our guide for self representing litigants here.
Thistoo is here to help you through every step of the divorce process. To see how Thistoo can help you head to thistoo.co today.