Every parent’s first concern is the health and well-being of their child. That concern doesn’t go away when dealing with custody issues, but it can become more complex. Custody issues can be confusing for a parent, who may never have been confronted with legal terms like conservators or parenting plans. By increasing your understanding of these ideas, it can help ease the confusion you experience and the emotional burden you feel.
What is a parenting plan?
At the end of every child custody adjudication, the court issues its final order, detailing how custody of the child will be handled moving forward. The order will include the rights and duties of the parents, legal and physical custody, orders for child support and any other provision designed to improve the relationship between the child and their parents. These detailed orders are collectively known as the parenting plan.
How are parenting plans created?
Although the court alone has the authority to order a parenting plan, parents have the ability to create their own. In fact, they’re encouraged to do so. If the parents are on good terms and can work together for the child’s best interest, they can agree on the specific terms of a parenting plan and present them to the court for approval. The court is not bound by the parents’ suggestions but it does take them seriously, and will frequently approve such plans with little to no change.
If the parents’ relationship is contentious, it falls to the court to make the decisions independently. The court may appoint a mediator or facilitator to work with the parents, acting as an impartial coordinator between the parents and the court. The coordinator can then provide information to the court, in addition to that provided by the parents, to help the court judge what orders are most likely to benefit the child.
When the court is satisfied it has all the information it needs and understands the issues relating to the child, it makes its final order, binding the parents to the parenting plan which has been created.