When there are minor child(ren) born of the marriage the Court will require a formal Parenting Plan be agreed to by the parties outlining their responsibilities for the minor child(ren). The Court only cares about what is in the best interests of the minor child(ren). Each family will require different plans depending on how old the children are, where the children go to school, extra-curricular activities, the health of the child(ren) and most important the location of the parents.
Most parenting plans provide for parental responsibility for educational and medical decisions, communication arrangements, travel requirements, holiday time-sharing and summer vacation. When the parties are unable to decide the Court will decide for them. For parents that cannot communicate the Court may Order them to take parenting courses above and beyond the regular one that is required by all parents when children are part of a divorce. The Court may also Order a Parenting Coordinator be assigned to the family which could be very costly. There are also several web and app based communication programs that can help as well (check under resources).
The basic Parenting Plan can allow for one weekend a month, every other weekend with one night during the week, the 225 time-sharing model or week to week. It is quite detailed and can be adjusted by child or however the parents feel would be in the best interest of the minor child(ren).
There is a Supervised/Safety Focused Parenting Plan can be used when there is issues of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, and/or addiction issues. The Court believes that children should be able to spend time with their parents and parents should be able to spend time with their children regardless of the situations. Severing a parent/child relationship only happens in the most severe cases. All other cases are treated on an individual basis and could include recommendations from a Guardian Ad Litem, a Mental Health Counselor, or a Parenting Coordinator. These plans are usually done for a time certain and are open to modification most of the time.
When one parent has relocated outside of the 50 mile minimum radius the Court will often implement the Relocation/Long Distance Parenting Plan. Often these parents will get one weekend a month with the minor child(ren), many of the school holidays and a majority of the Summer vacation time to make up for the distance. Special attention is required for transportation issues and the cost of the transportation. Again the Court will look at what is in the best interests of the minor child and most times the Court believes that spending time with both parents regardless of where they may live is in the minor child(ren)’s best interest.