Parenting plans and child custody arrangements are often among the most contentious issues in Family Law Court.
Seeking the advice of an experienced child custody attorney in Denver is critical when it comes to drafting a proper parenting plan. The court requires a written parenting plan addressing all of the issues relevant to your case. The court recognizes its parenting plan forms may not address all of the issues of your particular situation, but does not relieve both parents from the obligation to address those issues as part of the plan submitted to the court.
When it comes to infants and toddlers, the process can be complicated by the additional needs of very young children, as well as by the need to draft a plan that will offer proper guidance for many years to come.
Even in cases where parties do not agree, a submitted parenting plan is required. The court may adopt one of these plans, a combination of plans, or a plan entirely of its own devising. Whatever plan is adopted will become a court order.
Types of plans submitted to the court include:
- A Joint Parenting Plan: Full agreement signed by both parties.
- A Partial Parenting Plan: Partial agreement signed by both parties.
- Separate Parenting Plan: Submitted by one party without agreement.
Creating a Parenting Plan
Our experienced child custody attorneys in Denver know there are any number of scenarios where serious disagreements arise during the formation of a parenting plan, or while following a plan ordered by the court. When agreement between parents is reached, the most common cause of disagreements is issues not addressed in the plan. That’s why submitting a comprehensive plan to the court is so critical.
Yet even when there are substantial disagreements, parents who can reach resolution are much more likely to end up with an agreeable, workable plan, than those who rely upon a judge to arbitrate and draft a plan. In many cases, an experienced child custody lawyer in Denver can help reach a workable resolution by guiding you toward an acceptable arrangement while ensuring nothing vital has been omitted from a comprehensive parenting plan submitted to the court for approval.
Key issues your parenting plan should include:
Primary or joint physical custody and primary or joint decision-making responsibilities, are among the key issues.
Decision making: While day-to-day decisions over minor issues will typically be made by the parent present at the time, authority for key decision making, including education and medical decisions, as well as religious decisions, should be included in your plan.
Living arrangements: Responsibilities for adequate living arrangements and for keeping the other parent apprised of addresses and contact information.
Record Keeping: Unless otherwise ordered, both parties should have access to education and medical records pursuant to §14-10-123.8, C.R.S.
Visitation: While the court attempts a joint arrangement wherever possible, identifying your child’s residential schedule is required as part of the plan.
Holidays: Holidays and special occasions are sometimes overlooked while drafting visitation and custody arrangements. Without proper guidance as part of your parenting plan, contention often results during what should be festive occasions for children.
Travel and vacation: Make a plan for procedures to follow for extended trips.
Relocation: While there are laws addressing parental location, addressing these issues in advance should be part of your comprehensive parenting plan. Pursuant to §14-10-129, C.R.S. parents seeking to relocate must file a motion with the court and obtain court permission unless proper written agreement has been submitted.
Child support: The court has child-support guidelines which may be deviated from in some cases. However, it’s important child support payments are properly recognized by the court or the paying party may not get credit.
Medical expenses: Which parent is obligated to maintain child health insurance, and which parent is obligated to pay out-of-pocket expenses must be included in your parenting plan.
Additional expenses: Education and extracurricular expenses are often overlooked. They shouldn’t be as such expenses can be substantial, as can resulting disagreements. College expenses should also be considered, even when divorcing parents have younger children.
Taxes: Tax credits and other tax issues and obligations should be addressed. Failure to do so can result in both parties claiming children, which can trigger IRS penalties.
A comprehensive parenting plan is among the most important outcomes of Colorado divorces involving children. A well-constructed plan will assist parents in avoiding disagreements and enforcing obligations for years to come. Even when children are infants or toddlers, such plans must address childrearing needs for years to come. Drafting such a plan with the help of an experienced Denver child custody attorney can offer a roadmap to the kind of long, stable, happy childhood that every child deserves.
Call Littman Family Law and Mediation Services at 303-832-4200 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.