Parenting plans are required to be made in writing and in detail when parents separate or divorce. The state of Missouri requires such a written plan in the matter of all child custody cases. You and your co-parent can negotiate such a plan on your own and submit it to the family court judge for approval. If your plan complies with legal guidelines and the court sees that it has been created in the child’s best interests, it will likely be approved. In general, when parents submit such mutually agreed-upon plans, courts approve them which puts them into a court order that is enforceable.
If you and your co-parent cannot agree on a plan, both of you can submit your own proposed plan to the judge. After carefully reviewing each one, the judge may rule in favor of one or the other. The court may also come up with an alternate plan that will be made effective. Either way four areas will need to be addressed and outlined in the plan as discussed below.
Involved in a child custody matter in or around St. Louis? Reach out to Kallen Law Firm, LLC at (314) 441-7793 to book a free, initial case review.
What Needs to Be Included in a Parenting Plan?
The first area that will need to be addressed is custody arrangements and how/when each parent will spend time with the child. This includes setting up who will have legal and physical custody of the child. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions about such major areas as the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, and more. Physical custody gives a parent the right to spend specific amounts of time with the child.
Further information on this matter will include naming where the child will live, including a schedule outlining with whom the child will be staying on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis, showing when a visitation time will begin and end, designating where a child will be dropped off and picked up for parenting times, and how this schedule may change during summer vacations. If someone else other than the parent (such as a family member) will drop off or pick up the child for visitation, this should be noted as well.
The above area should also include who will pay for any additional transportation costs for the child, how holidays will be handled for visitation, how changes to the schedule will be handled between the parents, an agreement made on telephone contact that the child is to have with the other parent while at one parent’s residence, and how any special needs, such as those involving medications or health conditions will be handled.
Dispute Resolution for Parents
Another area that needs to be established in the parenting plan is the matter of how any disputes between the parents will be resolved. Parents should always make every effort to resolve any disputes between them first through their own communication. If that does not work, the parenting plan should contain a pre-arranged blueprint for enlisting outside help to resolve disputes, such as through mediation with a specified mediator or by taking the matter to the court.
Expenses Related to Parenting
While child support is a given in any custody and visitation matter, additional expenses may arise that should be taken into consideration in any parenting plan. These expenses can include additional medical or dental, money for extra-curricular activities, for sports activities, for additional lessons such as tutoring, music lessons, etc., or for childcare, such as when a parent must leave the child in the care of a babysitter. The parenting plan should spell out how these outside expenses will be handled between the two parties.
Need Help Creating a Missouri Parenting Plan?
The more detailed your parenting plan is the less chance there will be for disputes and the expenses that could follow with dispute resolution methods or court intervention. Because this is such an important issue and central to any divorce involving children, you should ensure that your parenting plan is comprehensive, fair, and is in your child’s best interests.
At Kallen Law Firm, LLC we concentrate our practice on divorce and family law; our husband and wife legal team has 45+ years of combined experience helping individuals resolve divorce and other family law issues throughout greater St. Louis. We can help you create a thorough parenting plan that meets the guidelines of Missouri law and that protects your legal rights as well.
Want to talk about your child custody or other family law matter? Call us at (314) 441-7793 to get started today.