What should we consider when creating a parenting plan?

Discover the different factors that could affect your parenting time schedule. Learn what the law says about handling these variances.

In a divorce, a couple with children will have to create a parenting plan. During the initial creation of a plan, there may be circumstances that will create special conditions for parenting time due to the family's situation. In any case, though, the plan may work out for a while, but it will probably not work forever as it is likely it will eventually need some updating to reflect changes that happen within the family over time.

Initial plan decisions

The idea behind a solid parenting plan is that it will provide children with meaningful time with each parent. The Utah courts explain that parenting plans also create an outline for expectations, reduce disagreements and manage future developments.

Parenting plans can cover special considerations that a family may have. Typically, this means that the plan will outline expected situations, such as holiday and vacation visitation schedules. It may also cover special events, such as family-specific events or extracurricular activities. Some families' plans may also cover what would happen if one parent needs to relocate out of state with the children or if a parent is an active member of the armed services.

Special rules for servicemembers

Having a parent who is an active duty servicemember creates a unique situation. The law has specific rules for how a family must deal with this situation. In general, a servicemember's parenting plan must include details that outline what will happen with his or her custody and visitation schedule for the children if the military deploys him or her. This includes arrangements for maintaining contact between the parent and the children during deployment.

Minimum standards

Utah does have a minimum standard for all parenting plans. Parents may create their own plans, but the state ensures that it meets minimum standards by imposing certain requirements.

For example, the minimum standards say that children ages five to 18 will spend the day with each parent on his or her birthday regardless of other plan arrangements. In addition, they will spend Mother's Day with their mother and Father's Day with their father.

It is important that each family keeps the minimum standards in mind when creating a parenting plan. If a plan does not meet these standards, the court may reject it.

There are many special circumstances that may justify modifying a parenting plan. It is a good idea for a family to create a plan initially that accounts for the potentially unique situations that may come up. However, modification of the plan is always possible later as children get older and the needs of the family change.

Call the family lawyers at Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates with four offices in Utah for legal counsel in negotiating, creating, reviewing and modifying parenting plans that comply with Utah law and meet the unique needs of your family.