Free parenting plan forms can assist couples in custody issues as they wade through the difficulties that a divorce may bring.
What Is a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is often submitted in divorce and/or custody issues. It breaks down the pertinent issues regarding the custody and parenting of any children involved. In many cases, the use of a parenting plan is looked upon favorably by the courts, particularly when the plan offers a variety of choices, which show a willingness to be flexible and to be organized. Because custody battles can become quite ugly, parenting plans can help ease an often volatile situation simply because they spell out each detail regarding how the child or children will be cared for. These detailed plans can help stave off power struggles between the divorcing parents, and open up the door for negotiations between both parties and their lawyers.
Free Parenting Plan Forms: Tips and Advice
With so many free parenting plan forms available online, how do you know what plan is right for you? The ultimate goal of a parenting plan is to ensure that the children are cared for and that both parents maintain a good relationship with the child. Obviously, a form will not essentially guarantee that everything will go smoothly throughout and after the divorce. However, there are several points that should be considered as you draw up a parenting plan.
- Family history-Since you don't know who will be viewing your parenting plan, it's safe to assume that whoever does read it really doesn't know anything about you, your spouse, and your family. Give a brief history in a page or two including how and when you met your spouse, info on your extended family, and where you have lived and worked throughout your marriage. You should also include a medical history of both parents.
- Parenting philosophy-In this section, briefly state your parenting philosophy regarding how you want to raise your children. This should include religious preferences, discipline practices, and any other topic that addresses your kids' needs, such as extracurricular activities, school records, insurance plans, income tax information, emergency contacts, etc.
- Parenting schedules-This is the most important part of the parenting plan, as this section will discuss visitation schedules. To show that you are willing to be flexible (which most judges appreciate), put more than one suggested visitation or custody schedule on the plan. Be sure and outline things like holidays, birthdays, and other special days, and include times and places for pick-ups and drop-offs.
- Parenting plan purpose-As you draw up the plan, keep in mind the purpose for relating such details. It's important that you state only the facts, unless otherwise asked. This plan may be used by the judge, mediators, child psychologists, and guardian ad litems in the determination of primary physical custody and visitation issues. Today's custody issues are often settled with a verdict of joint legal custody. However, one person is typically awarded primary physical custody, which means that parent's address is the one used on any legal forms, and the child may stay more often with that parent. The parent with primary physical custody is usually the one who receives child support as well.
There are numerous free parenting plan forms which are available on the Internet. The following sites offer a number of these plans. Keep in mind, however, that not every plan will work for your situation. Some of these parenting plans are actually designed for particular states, and they may or may not address or ignore some issues that are pertinent to your state's custody regulations.
- LoveToKnow Divorce
- Woman's Divorce-Find a number of divorce tools at this comprehensive site.
- Co-Parenting-This family mediation center is a great online source for child custody issues.
Divorcecan be difficult on all the parties involved, but a parenting plan can break down the issues and provide some of the answers in order to resolve many of the painful topics associated with the breakup of a marriage.