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What Are Parenting Plans?

When facing divorce or legal separation, parents must address the custody and visitation arrangements for their children. This is quite complicated, as both parents typically need and want to maintain contact and interaction with their children. However, it’s not possible for both parents to continue physically parenting the children on a day-to-day basis. A parenting plan is the legal agreement between the two parents regarding both physical and legal custody, as well as visitation, child support, health insurance, schooling, and other common issues.

If you need a parenting plan, Church Langdon Lopp Banet Law has the experience and knowledge to help you find a solution that works out in the best interests of your children, while also protecting your parenting rights.

Who Needs Parenting Plans?

Parenting plans are for parents who:

  • Have agreed to a divorce and need to plan for the way they will continue to parent their children after divorce
  • Are filing for legal separation and need a plan for the kids
  • Are not married and want to ensure the parenting time and visitation arrangements are protected.

If you are in one of these categories, a parenting agreement is an important piece of protection both for you and your children. 

A Parenting Agreement Protects the Best Interests of Children

When drafting a parenting agreement, one of the most important considerations is what is best for the kids. The courts are leaning toward the assumption that equal custody is in the best interests of the children. Sometimes, it’s best for the kids to continue having contact with both of their parents, while living primarily with one. This means giving primary physical custody to one parent, but ensuring legal custody and visitation is protected for the other parent. 

However, in cases involving abuse or neglect, these may not be the best-case scenarios. Our team at CLLB Law can assist parents in digging through their options to find an agreement that will work in the best interests of the children, while also protecting their rights to remain in the picture as parents.

Key Parts of a Coparenting Agreement

A coparenting agreement has many different parts that parents must discuss and agree upon. Our team is here to assist with these discussions. Some of these key parts include the following.

Custody of the Children

Determining custody is more complicated than you may think. You need to think of the practicalities, like where the child will live. The legalities are important, too, including which parent will make important legal and financial decisions for the child. 

Sometimes, one parent will have sole custody, giving that parent the full ability to make decisions. Most times, the two parents will have joint custody, meaning they try to make decisions together and cooperate. Other arrangements are possible, too. 

Our child custody attorneys can help with negotiating these decisions, protecting your rights and the rights of the children. 

Visitation Schedule

It is the goal of the courts for children to have substantially equal time with both parents. Often, though, one parent will have primary physical custody. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that parent will get to spend all of the time with the children. Instead, the other parent also will receive some opportunities to host the children in that parent’s home. The plan may even specify a certain number of overnights the children will spend with each parent.

Consequently, a visitation schedule will need to be set up to ensure the children have time with the other parent, as well as how holidays will be split between the two homes. This schedule also needs to address how the children will spend their summer vacations and other breaks from school. If either parent works, the visitation schedule may also need to address how child care will look, ensuring the kids are safe.

Child Support Requirement

Indiana’s child support rules and guidelines specify how child support works, but the calculations can still be quite complex. Our child support lawyers can help you understand how the process should work and what kinds of payments you or the other parent will make for the children. Determining a fair amount for support payments can be highly emotional, but you can count on us to work toward the best possible outcome. 

Enforcing the payment of support is challenging as well. A parenting plan should address the enforcement aspect.

Health Insurance and Health Decisions

Who will pay for your child’s insurance? Potentially, even if your children are covered under one parent’s health insurance plan through work, the other parent may need to contribute some money toward health insurance coverage. Should you end up with medical bills that insurance doesn’t cover, a parenting plan may address how the two parents will split these costs. 

Additionally, which parent will make medical decisions when needed? With joint custody, the two of you will need to come to an agreement on medical care decisions, unless there’s an emergency situation occurring. Your parenting plan should address all of these items in detail.

Failing to address these issues in the parenting plan can lead to disagreements in the future.

Transportation for Visitation

If you and the other parent will be living far apart, your parenting plan should address how you will transport the child from one house to the other for visitation times.

In many cases, the parent who will be spending time with the children next is responsible for paying for transportation and arranging it. However, you as the parents may decide that another system works better for you. Some couples that simply don’t get along well may even want to arrange transportation or pickup using a third party or a neutral location.

Regardless of what you choose to do, details regarding the transportation should be part of the coparenting agreement.

College Savings

College savings plans can be complex to manage in the midst of a divorce. For one of the most popular savings plans, called a 529 plan, only one person has the power to withdraw from it, although both parents can contribute and watch for transactions on the account. Your plan can specify how contributions will work. 

If you are struggling to trust your spouse’s financial decisions, giving your spouse control of the 529 account can be nerve wracking. In a case like this, both parents may want to manage their own 529 accounts for each child.

If you choose to stick with one account, it’s also possible that you need to have the non-custodial parent have the power to withdraw from it, while allowing the custodial parent to apply for financial aid for the kids. This arrangement helps with minimizing the custodial parent’s assets that are available to pay for college. Our family law mediation attorneys can provide key advice when making these decisions.

Information Sharing

From time to time you will need to share important information about the children with the other parent. How will this be handled? What information will you be required to always share?

Often, you don’t need to share every piece of information with the other parent, such as a new hobby. However, medical, religious, and schooling information will be required to be shared. 

Typically, the more information you share with each other and the more honest you are with each other regarding what is happening with the kids, the better your parenting plan will work. But if you don’t trust the other parent to share information, the requirement for sharing information needs to be part of the parenting agreement.

The Details Matter in Parenting Plans

As you can see, a coparenting agreement is more than just a custody arrangement agreement. There are many factors that must be considered, and you will need skilled guidance to ensure you are making the right choices, both for yourself and for your child.

Trust the divorce lawyers at CLLB Law to give you the support and guidance you need to have the most success in trying to put together a parenting plan that works for both parties and the kids.

Handling Parenting Plans with Compassion and Sensitivity

Unfortunately, divorce and separation can be highly emotional, and children keenly feel the stress of these times. When you partner with Church Langdon Lopp Banet Law, you have the benefit of compassionate attorneys who will handle your case with sensitivity. We treat our family law clients with respect and discretion. We always have your best interests and the best interests of your children in mind.

If you need help drafting a parenting plan that will properly protect your children, call (812) 725-8226 today.

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