If you were to get advice from someone who has overcome the challenge of going through a divorce while rearing children, they would be most likely to tell you something along the lines of one thing: while divorce is stressful enough on its own, it can get even more complicated when it comes to the time when you have to ensure the present and future happiness of your children.
Evidence suggests that children who lose their relationship with one parent as a result of divorce are susceptible to both emotional and developmental distress. This explains why creating a stable and appropriate parenting schedule is one of the key factors in ensuring that your children or child is able to transition into their new, post-divorce life with a bit more comfort and assurance.
You Must Submit a Parenting Plan
Colorado law does not allow divorcing parents to simply break up and leave the planning for later. When you are in the midst of filing for divorce, Colorado courts will require that you formally submit a written parenting plan outlining the basics of the time that will be spent with each parent, the primary residence of the child, and more.
A parenting plan can be filed in a few different ways. The best way is, naturally, if you and the other parent of the child are able to come together on an agreement regarding the parenting plan. If both parties can agree to every term of the parenting plan, a joint parenting plan may be submitted to the court.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on all of the terms of a parenting plan, however, Colorado gives each spouse an option to file their own parenting plan. If there is no agreement, it is very likely that the court will enter its own plan, which may be either: 1. a plan written by one of the parties (you or your spouse); or, 2. an entirely different plan that the court determines to be in the best interest of the child or children.
Regardless of however a parenting plan is filed and to whom it favors, it becomes a court order upon approval.
A Parenting Plan Must Outline the Allocation of Responsibilities
One of the most important aspects of a parenting plan in the eyes of the court is the allocation of parental responsibilities, such as day-to-day decisions, access to medical and school records, and more. Additionally, the court needs to know where the child’s residence is for the purpose of school attendance, which may make you want to consider what the best options are for your family.
The court wants to ensure that the major decision-making responsibilities are outlined. Knowing this information is not only important to the court, but it is also an easy way to resolve disputes should they ever arise. Major decisions include educational, medical, religious, and extracurricular. Colorado allows for either one or both parents to take part in major decision-making. Additionally, parents can add other identified major decisions based on their situation and the lifestyle of their child. It’s often suggested that the residential parent makes the major decisions, but it is possible for joint decision-making to be successful in specific situations.
Typically, financial obligations to the child can be encompassed in child support agreements. Child support is definitely something to consider when it comes to crafting your perfect parenting plan, but the complexity of child support agreements vary from one family to the next. This makes it hard to generalize the role of child support in the parenting plan process.
Other expenses, such as healthcare costs, extraordinary expenses (for example, extracurricular activities), and post-secondary expenses should all be addressed in the formation of the parenting plan. This is important not only for your financial security, but it also ensure that the court can enforce any financial obligations that are not met in the future.
Remember: Your Parenting Plan Must Be Right for You and Your Family
While most parenting plans follow the same general guidelines, these things always vary based on many factors. Some things that may change how your parenting plan looks, for example, is how far away you and your ex-partner live from each other, your work schedules, the schedules of the children, and more.
Having a good parenting plan not only makes your post-divorce life a bit easier, but it will make a world of difference in the entire life of your child. If you’re ready to ensure that you have the ideal parenting plan in place for your child, contact our family law specialists to learn more.
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