During custody litigation, each parent is required to submit proposed parenting plan to the Court if child custody or visitation is at issue. Preparing this parenting plan can be a difficult task for parents. In some counties in Missouri, such as St. Louis County, there is a form parenting plan that is required to be filed with the Court. In other counties, the parenting plan is a document drafted by your family law attorney.
When preparing to discuss what it is that you want out of your proposed parenting plan, you will need to consider the following topics:
- Legal custody and decision-making authority;
- Physical custody and visitation;
- Residential parent for mailing end educational purposes;
- Location of custody exchanges;
- Holiday schedule;
- Dispute resolution;
- Child support;
- Method of payment of child support;
- Work-related child care provider and manner of payment;
- Health insurance provider and costs;
- Uncovered medical expenses;
- Extraordinary medical expenses; and
- College expenses.
The goal of the parenting plan is to create a stable living arrangement for the children involved in the litigation. The parenting plan should promote the health and welfare of your children while also providing your children an opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Each family is unique, and a parenting plan that works for one family may not work for another. It is important that you present a well-reasoned proposed plan for the Court to consider adopting in its final judgment.
Once a parenting plan has become part of your final custody judgment, it has officially become an order of the Court and the parents are ordered to abide by its terms. However, most parenting plans incorporate a provision that states that, as it relates to custodial time, the parents can agree to something other than the terms outlined in the parenting plan. The terms of the parenting plan, in that instance, are for when the parents do not agree to do otherwise. If there is no agreement, the parenting plan is the back-up plan.
If your parenting plan that is currently in place is no longer working for you and your family, it may be time to revisit the terms. As children grow, it is common for one or both parents to want to change the custodial arrangements. If you or someone you know in the St. Louis, Missouri area is contemplating a divorce or modification of a current custody plan, contact an experienced family law attorney. Kathleen Shaul and Valerie Craig are strong advocates for their clients in child custody proceedings and give personal attention to each case. Contact The Law Offices of Kathleen E. Shaul at 314.499.1476 to arrange for a confidential consultation.