Parenting Plans are required in all Georgia divorce, custody and custody modification cases. When reality hits, people change, rules change, situations change, and relationships change. That is when a Parenting Plan comes in handy. The Parenting Plan addresses pitfalls that may arise to keep the court or conflict out of sight with the other parent. When minor child(ren) are involved, dividing the time among the parents is usually the most difficult tasks as the emotions are likely to run high.
Despite what many people contemplating uncontested divorce sometimes believe, Parenting Plans are required by the court for all cases involving minor children. An uncontested divorce will not be granted unless a comprehensive parenting plan is agreed upon by the parties and filed with the court.
The Parenting Plan promotes some security that both parents can mutually agree on common areas concerning the minor child(ren). As far as the length of the Parenting Plan is concerned, the age of the minor child(ren) has great bearing on how detailed the Parenting Plan should generally be. As far as young children are concerned, consistency between homes is required. It is hard to move young child(ren) from one residence to another without having a proper parenting plan implemented that contemplates their needs. When older children are involved, they are more likely to adapt to the environment easily; however, stricter rules are generally imposed. Parenting Plans are beneficial because they strengthen future relationships as it allows both parties to remain consistent in regards to the terms originally agreed upon and communicate effectively in regards to the conditions imposed under the plan.
Under O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1 in Georgia, every domestic relations case in which children are involved, an adoption of formal Parenting Plan is required before a case is finalized. If parties mutually agree on all the conditions without the necessary trial or hearing, Parenting Plan can be submitted to the trial judge for the final approval. On the contrary, if the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, then the child custody or visitation matters are decided under the trial judge’s discretion after considering the testimony and evidence presented by both parties.
Under O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1, unless otherwise ordered by the judge, a Parenting Plan should include the following:
- Recognition that a close and continuing parent-child relationship and continuity in child’s life will be in child’s best interest.
- Child’s needs will change and grow as the child matures and demonstrates that parents will make an effort to parent that takes this issue into account so the future parenting plan modifications are likely to be minimized.
- Parent with the physical custody will make day-to-day decisions including emergency decisions while the child is residing with the parent.
- Both parents are to have access to all child’s records and information, including, but not limited to: education, health, and extracurricular activities.
Furthermore, under O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1, if ordered by the judge, a Parenting Plan shall include, but not be limited to:
- Time and location of child’s physical care, designating the location of where the child will spend each day of the year.
- Description of special events including holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, including the day and time each event will begin and end
- Transportation arrangements including how child will be exchanged between parents, where the child will be exchanged, how much transportation will cost, and any other significant matters relating to time spent with each parent.
- Details and particulars about supervision of the child(ren).
- Allocation of decision-making authority to one or both parents with regards to major areas in child’s life including: education, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing, and how to resolve a situation in which parents disagree on the resolution.
- Any existing limitations during the time one parent has physical custody of the child
It is very essential to follow all the Georgia laws and requirements when developing a plan, or the plan could be rejected and delay your case. If you have any questions about divorce and family law matters involving minor children, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced divorce and family law attorneys at 770-609-1247. We serve client’s in the metro-Atlanta area, with our main office conveniently located in Alpharetta, Georgia.