All divorces that involve children require a parenting plan. Parents have two options when devising a permanent parenting plan in Georgia:
Parents work together on a plan and submit it jointly to the judge. This is the preferred option, as parents have the opportunity to make decisions based on their unique circumstances, rather than relying on a judge to make those decisions.
For couples who cannot agree, each parent will submit his or her own proposed plan. The judge can accept one or the other if he believes it is reasonable and in the best interests of the child(ren). However, the judge may also create his or her own plan by incorporating portions of each parent’s plan.
What Does a Parenting Plan Include?
Georgia permanent parenting plans have several different sections:
- Child custody and decision making: Details legal and physical custody and who can make major decisions such as healthcare and religious upbringing.
- Parenting time and visitation schedule: Details when and how each parent will have contact with the child, e.g., every other weekend, spring break, summer vacation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Will also detail transportation to and from each parent’s residence.
- Access to records: Details any limitations of access to records.
- Modification of plan or disagreements about plan: Details the agreement both parents made about how they will approach plan modification and disagreements.
- Special considerations: Anything special the court needs to know, e.g. health issues.
- The last section is simply where both parents state that they agreed to the aforementioned points and that they will work together to maintain the best interests of the child(ren).
Judicial Decisions for Developing Permanent Parenting Plans
Many things from behavior to health may affect a judge’s ruling. For example, judges may consider any of the following when deciding on a permanent parenting plan:
- Are both parents putting their children’s needs and interests before their own?
- Are they approaching this issue positively, or is one (or both) making negative statements and accusations about the other?
- Do they appear willing to compromise? Are they willing to take any parenting disputes to arbitration?
- Is each parent genuinely listening to the other?
- Are they courteous, professional, and focused on the issues at hand, or are they using the parenting issue as a forum to complain about the other?
- Is there any documentation of family violence, criminal activity, or substance abuse for either parent?
- Are both parents physically and mentally healthy?
- How involved is each parent in the children’s life?
- Does each parent encourage the child(ren) to maintain a close relationship with the other parent?
The judge also looks at the emotional ties the child(ren) have to each parent, the ability for both parents to give their children love and emotional support, and how attuned each parent is to their children’s needs.
David Ward Can Help You Create a Parenting Plan
Because you must file a detailed and compelling permanent parenting plan in your divorce case, the assistance of a lawyer is critical. A Gwinnett County family law attorney at the Ward Law Firm will help you create a parenting plan that shows the judge you truly have your child’s best interests at heart and that you are willing to work with the other parent to raise your child.
Contact us to schedule your REAL Case Analysis today: 770-383-1973.