If you have children and your relationship is breaking down working out
what will happen with your children is one of the most important issues
to resolve - this is commonly known as a parenting plan. Any cases involving
children, whether it's a divorce or separation between spouses or
custody cases between unmarried couples, always involve certain issues.
These issues can be resolved by an agreement or by trial, but they must
be addressed one way or the other.
Here's a list of issues that must be addressed to form the basis of
a parenting plan:
Unless the courts have ordered something different, both parents have
the right to:
- Which house is identified as "home base" for the children?
- When will the children be with each parent during the school year?
- When will the children be with each parent during holiday breaks?
- How will the summer break period be handled?
- What arrangements will be made for exchanging the children at the beginning
of each parent's time?
- Who will decide which extracurricular activities the children will participate
in? How will these activities be paid for? What happens if an activity
falls during the other parent's time?
- How will the children's religious upbringing be handled?
- Who will make decisions for the medical and mental health needs of the
children? How will these needs be paid for?
- Who will have the right to represent the children in legal action and make
other legal decisions for the children?
- How will the children's access to the internet be handled?
- Who will carry the children on health insurance? Who will pay for the coverage?
How will the uninsured medical expenses be handled?
- Who will make decisions regarding the children's education? How will
private schooling be handled? What happens if the children need additional
educational assistance such as tutoring? How will those expenses be handled?
- What plans are being made for the children's future college education?
- Will the children talk on the telephone to the parent not in possession of them?
- Will the children be allowed to travel outside the country with each parent?
How will the passports be handled?
Here's some other tips that I've found to be important as a family
law attorney who works with parents who are splitting up and I recommend
that you should keep in mind:
- Receive information concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
- Talk with the other parent before making a decision concerning the health,
education and welfare of the kids;
- Access their children's medical, dental, psychological and educational records;
- Consult with the kids' doctors;
- Consult with the school concerning the kids' welfare and educational status;
- Attend school activities;
- Be listed as an emergency contact on the kids' records;
- Consent to medical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate
danger to the health and safety of the kids;
- Be offered the chance to take care of the kids during the other parent's
time if the other parent has something that keeps them from the kids.
- Alcohol consumption - limit the amount of alcohol you consume during your
time with your kids, especially if alcohol has been a problem before.
Never drive with your children if you've been drinking.
- New romantic partners - take care to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend
to your kids slowly, so they don't feel as though their other parent
is being replaced.
- Travel - when planning trips for business or pleasure, with or without
your kids, keep your kids' schedules and your parenting plan in mind.