What must be included in a Georgia parenting time plan?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Family Law |

When a Georgia marriage cannot be saved and a couple chooses to move forward with a divorce, it is easy to forget how the end of the marriage will impact children. It is important for the parents to be cognizant of the child’s needs and ensure their best interests are served.

Provided it is safe to do so, the child should have a strong relationship with both parents. Once child custody has been decided, a parenting plan strives to give the noncustodial parent sufficient time with the child. Although this can be complicated, particularly in cases in which the parents are not on good terms, it is essential to know the basics of how to craft a parenting plan that follows state law.

A parenting plan has specific criteria that must be met

In some cases, the parents can create a parenting plan on their own. The judge in the case will be at their discretion to decide whether to approve it or not. In the parenting plan, the parents need to cover the common issues that arise. First, they must strive to forge a relationship between the other parent and the child. This is designed to give the child structure and serve their interests for a prosperous future.

As the child ages, they will have different needs. A toddler will need to bond with the parents even if they are living separately and not seeing each other every day. For an older child who has a different schedule and is already familiar with both parents, the template will be different.

For example, the noncustodial parent could be involved in the child’s extracurricular activities like sports or music. The parenting plan should be crafted to accommodate when the child has events so the noncustodial parent can plan an active role. As the child reaches their teen years, they will likely have their own interests and the parenting plan can also reflect that.

The parents are expected to work together on behalf of the child. That means they must understand that the parent with physical custody at the time can make decisions for the child. That includes medical care, education and more. This is not to imply that the other parent has no say. They can receive information including their health, education, religious upbringing and activities.

A common sticking point in parenting plans is deciding where the child will be on special occasions and during extended time off from school. The noncustodial might want the child for summer vacation so they can take a trip. The custodial parent could have plans of their own or want the child to attend a camp. Birthdays, holidays and other events need to be clearly organized to avoid disputes where there does not need to be one.

Fundamental concerns can come up like transportation back and forth, how decisions will be made, and if there are limitations regarding contacting the other parent. These can be detailed in the parenting plan.

For the child’s future

The parenting plan must address all major issues to put the child in a good position for a bright future. Knowing the objectives and trying to achieve them is key and a reasonable parenting plan is part of that. From the start, the parents need to know how family law addresses their concerns and how to be prepared. This can benefit them and their child.