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What should a parenting plan address when getting divorced?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Family and Divorce Law

Hawaii couples who have children and are in the middle of a divorce need to remember to focus on the kids’ needs. This is true regardless of the lingering challenges between the parents and whether it is a somewhat amicable or overtly contentious case. Children are easily caught in the middle and it is wise to avoid them being negatively impacted by the dramatic changes on the horizon.

The best interests of the child need to be served and, provided it is safe, there should be continuing contact with both parents. A crucial part of that is establishing a workable parenting plan.

Know the requirements with a parenting plan

When child custody is in dispute, the parents are required to submit a parenting plan to the court. If the parents can meet and discuss the proposal, work together in good faith and formulate a plan that serves the child’s best interests, they can submit it to the court for approval. This would be a mutually agreed upon plan. If they cannot do so, they can create their own proposals and submit them separately.

When the parents prioritize the child’s needs, there is less of a chance of complications. The residential schedule will keep everyone on the same page knowing when the child will be with which parent. It could mean that the child stays with one parent during the school week and sees the other on weekends. The circumstances will dictate how this is handled.

Special occasions can lead to hard feelings as the parents will want the child on specific days. For religious holidays, family gatherings, summer vacation and the winter break, it is imperative to have a grasp of what each side wants and to make that clear in the proposal.

Decision making and who has the authority when the child is with each parent needs to be understood. If the child needs medical care, the parents should be on the same page and be able to seek that care without necessarily getting approval from the other parent. Information such as school reports, health care, religious upbringing – this should be organized in the plan.

A parent who decides to relocate can lead to disagreements. If it is the custodial parent, it is wise to know the legal avenues to let the other parent know as a greater distance from the previous living situation could make it harder to have consistent parenting time. The other parent could have the right to protest the move.

Communication schedules for the parent who does not have the child at the time must be clear. For example, the child might have a video chat or phone call at specified times while they are with the other parent. A simple matter like the exchange could be complicated and this too should be detailed.

When the sides are unable to come to an agreement on their own, the court has several options. It can order the parties to take part in an alternative dispute resolution program so an experienced professional can try to find common ground to avoid a rancorous and extended court battle.

Parenting plans are a key part of family law cases

As a family law case proceeds, the parents need to know how to organize a parenting plan to adhere to the law, make sure the child has a relationship with the other parent and disputes are minimized. Since every case is different, it is essential to be prepared. That includes knowing what can and cannot be done as well as what options are available to reach a reasonable solution.