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The Importance of a Detailed Parenting Plan

patrickcrawford | December 26, 2019

Divorce can be more difficult when you have children for many reasons. First, worrying about the emotional effect of divorce on your kids can be stressful, as each child will handle the situation in a different way. There are also practical concerns as well as emotional ones, as you will need to settle on a custody arrangement with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. 

Agreeing on a custody arrangement – or having the court do it for you – is no simple task. Custody can be a contentious issue, as both parents might want to spend the majority of their tie with their child. Even after custody is determined, one parent may refuse to abide by the arrangement or might cause other issues when it comes to co-parenting

One way you can plan ahead to minimize complications is to have a detailed parenting plan at the outcome of your divorce. No two parenting plans are the same, and you always want to ensure that yours is tailored to your situation. With the right terms, a parenting plan can help address disputes swiftly to maintain cooperation between the parents. This is the best situation for everyone involved, as children should never feel like they are in the middle of a dispute between their two parents. 

If you are facing a divorce with children, it is imperative that you have experienced divorce and custody Annapolis Family Law & Divorce Attorney handling your case. Contact the Law Office of Patrick Crawford right away. 

Joint Custody in Maryland

Each state has its own laws regarding what type of custody might be presumed or favored by the courts. Maryland law does not favor joint custody over sole custody or vice versa – except for sole custody is presumed in cases involving child neglect or abuse. Outside of abuse or neglect cases, custody determinations are made based on what is in the best interests of the child.

In most cases, courts believe that having a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents is generally in the best interests of the child. To foster such relationships, many custody arrangements involve joint physical and/or legal custody. This means that each parent gets to physically spend time with their child, as well as participate in important decisions for the child’s life. 

When parents share time with a child and parenting responsibilities, it is all too easy for conflicts and disagreements to arise. To reduce conflict and encourage healthy co-parenting, it is important to have a highly detailed and comprehensive parenting plan as part of your custody agreement. 

What Should be Included in Your Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan should have numerous provisions in order for the agreement to cover all the necessary issues to prevent conflict. Some provisions that are important include the following.

  • 1 – Statement of custody rights.

There should be a statement that assigns sole or joint custody, addressing both legal and physical custody rights. It should state whether parents have joint custody, whether one parent has primary custody with visitation rights, or another detailed statement describing the division of custody. 

  • 2 – Visitation schedule.

You should nail down a schedule of exactly when the child should be with either parent. This includes when the child will reside with each parent, how and when the transfer of the child will happen, and more.

  • 3 – Vacation and holiday schedules.

The schedule can change significantly during the holidays and school vacations, and the usual schedule might not work during these special times. The parenting plan should carefully address where the child should be for important holidays when a parent can take the child on vacation, and more.   

  • 4 – Delegation of parental responsibilities.

The duties and responsibilities of each parent should be clearly set out in the parenting plan. This includes who can make decisions about their religious practices and upbringing, who will transport the child to activities and drop-offs, who will attend parent-teacher conferences and school events, who will take the child to the doctor, and much more. This part of your parenting plan should be specially tailored to your situation and should address as many issues as are appropriate for your circumstances.

  • 5 – Additional agreements.

There are many additional terms you can agree on and include in the parenting plan. There might include:

  • Not to argue in front of your child and to have peaceful exchanges
  • To provide certain information about your child to the other parent in a timely manner
  • How the other parent will communicate with the child while they are apart, and allowing reasonable text or phone access to the child

You have the ability to address any issues you believe might arise in the future in your plan. The more you tackle in your parenting plan, the fewer conflicts that might arise down the line.

Your parenting plan is your chance to provide resolutions to conflicts before they exist. If a disagreement does happen between the parents, you can refer to the terms of your parenting plan for a simple resolution to the matter. For example, if both parents want to take the child to their family’s house for Thanksgiving in the same year, the parenting plan should clear up which parent has the right to do so that particular year. 

Agreeing on Parenting Plan Term

It is best when parents can cooperate and agree on the terms of their parenting plan. An attorney can help guide you in negotiations to hopefully reach an agreement when possible. Even if you cannot agree at first, you might engage in mediation to encourage communication and cooperation. Often, mediation can result in a thorough parenting plan you both agree to. You can then submit the joint agreement to the court for approval. 

If you are not able to reach an agreement, you might need the court to set out the terms of your parenting plan for you. In this situation, you want an attorney to help you prepare your own proposed plan that you may present to the judge. Your attorney can explain why you believe your proposal is in the best interests of your child. The court can then consider your proposal, as well as any proposals of the other parent, and then will decide what the terms of your parenting plan should be. 

In any situation, you want to support and assistance of a skilled custody attorney in Annapolis from the very start of your case. Having the right lawyer can often result in a parenting plan that works for you and your child, and that can foster healthy co-parenting and peaceful relationships for everyone involved. 

Discuss Your Situation with an Annapolis Child Custody Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Patrick Crawford, we know that a successful custody arrangement begins with a reasonable agreement and a detailed parenting plan. It is important to approach custody with a practical mindset instead of emotion, which can be challenging for any parent. Having an experienced Annapolis child custody attorney helping you from the start can only improve the outcome of your case, including having a parenting plan that guides healthy shared custody and co-parenting situation. 

Attorney Patrick Crawford, Annapolis Child Custody Lawyer can assist with every aspect of your divorce, so please call 1-410-216-7905 contact us online to discuss your situation today. Annapolis MD Child Custody Lawyer.