If you have a custody case, whether it is a divorce, legitimation, or modification of custody, a parenting plan is required. Below are some common questions clients often ask regarding parenting plans.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a detailed court order setting forth the rights of the mother and father concerning the children. It addresses both legal and physical custody. Essentially it tells each parent how decisions are to be made regarding the children, when the parents can visit with the children, and how the parents must conduct their visits with their children.
What are the requirements of a parenting plan in Georgia?
Georgia law is very detailed in what must be included in a valid parenting plan. Therefore, assistance of an attorney in drafting a parenting plan is always recommended. Generally speaking, there are a few categories a parenting plan must address:
First, each parent’s right to participate in decisions regarding health, education, religion and extra-curricular issues for the minor child is addressed in a parenting plan. The parenting plan sets forth in detail how decisions will be made and what parents must do in the event of a disagreement.
Second, the parenting plan sets forth where the child will be on a daily basis, holidays, and special occasions. It also addresses how the child will be transported between the parents. In addition, if supervised parenting time is warranted, the parenting plan will specify when, where, and how the supervised parenting time will occur.
Finally, a parenting plan addresses the conduct of the parties during their parenting time. For example, the parenting plan reminds the parents they should act in their children’s best interests and shall not ill of the other parent to the children. A parenting plan cannot account for every possibility that may arise during visitation, but it gives the parties a framework or outline to work within.
What if the parties cannot agree to the terms of a parenting plan?
The judge will decide the terms of the parenting plan. At a hearing, the judge will listen to each parent’s arguments and make a decision he or she deems to be in the child’s best interests.
Any parenting plan whether entered into by agreement or following a court hearing, must be in the children’s best interest. Parenting plans are designed to remove confusion when parents exercise parenting time with their children. Therefore, a well drafted, well thought out parenting plan is the best tool to avoid conflict in child custody visitations. An attorney can help you learn more about child custody proceedings in Georgia.
Amanda Speights is a co-founder and lead family law attorney at Speights Law, PC in Cherokee County. She is an experienced family law lawyer who handles an assortment of domestic cases, including divorce, child custody, child support, appeals and other types of litigation in the state of Georgia.