Concord Parenting Plan Lawyer

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Concord Parenting Plan Lawyer
The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain

The Law Office of Aimee E. Cain Parenting Plan Attorney in Concord, NC

When a couple divorces, there are many decisions to be made regarding how to move forward, from spousal support and asset division to child custody and visitation rights. For couples with children, one of the most important aspects of planning during divorce involves creating a detailed parenting plan. A parenting plan allows parents to provide input to the court on how they would like to handle child custody, child support, and other child-rearing decisions after they are divorced.

Concord Parenting Plan Lawyer

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A written parenting plan is a document that co-parents can create together upon their split that outlines parenting time with their shared children. They then submit it to the court. The parenting plan helps to provide structure and limit future miscommunications, as all of the details are laid out in writing. At a minimum, a parenting plan legally includes details about legal and physical custody, visitation schedules, and healthcare details.

The plan can also include other specifics, such as how disagreements will be resolved, childcare details, transportation plans, and education plans. The court has the final say regarding what is believed to be in the best interest of the child, but they take well-developed parenting plans created by the couple into consideration when making determinations.

Parental Plan Checklist

Parenting plans are required to include the big decisions, such as information about custody and visitation schedules, but there are many other details that can be included to create a more comprehensive parenting plan. Follow the checklist below as you and your co-parent discuss and develop your plan:

  • Parenting schedule. The parenting schedule doesn’t just stop at who will get the child and when. Consider discussing and documenting how exchanges will occur, how you will navigate requests for changes to the schedule, and what will happen to the child if one parent has an emergency.
  • Holidays and special event schedule. Determine where your child will spend holidays and other special events like spring break, birthdays, and summer vacation. Consider developing a schedule or system that allows you and your child to prepare years in advance (such as alternating parents every other Christmas, for example).
  • Travel. Establish guidelines for how trips and travel is going to be handled. For example, how far in advance should the other parent be made aware of a trip, and who will pay for the child’s travel expenses? Consider also if there are certain people the child is not allowed to travel with.
  • Maintaining important relationships. Discuss how your child will maintain relationships with their extended family members on both parents’ sides and whether any visits with certain family members need to be supervised. If a child will be spending part of their year away from their main living space, such as summer vacation in a different town, determine how they will maintain friendships with their friends.
  • Important decision procedures. This could encompass many different areas depending on your family dynamics and the age of your children. Make a plan for how child-rearing decisions will be made in religion, education, discipline, healthcare, and other areas important to you. Discuss what you will do if you cannot come to an agreement – such as assigning a neutral third party to help you work through the disagreement.
  • Expenses. Child support only covers necessities, which can include some entertainment and extracurricular activities, but not necessarily all expenses related to those “extras” that come up in a child’s life. Discuss who will be responsible for expenses associated with raising a child that aren’t covered by child support and how those expenses will be paid — directly by one parent, reimbursement, etc.
  • Communication with children. Choose a method for how your kids will communicate with the other parent when they are not with them. Decide if there will be a consistent time every day they will call the other parent or if video chatting could be utilized to keep in contact.
  • Communication between co-parents. Determine which method you will use to communicate as co-parents. Consider a written method such as via email or text messages so your communication attempts can be documented in case one parent ever tries to say they were not contacted about a certain issue. The parenting plan can also include specifications about how often co-parents will communicate or in what specific situations communication is warranted.

The checklist above could potentially be only a starting point when it comes to developing a comprehensive plan. Just as all families are different, so are all parenting plans. Do your best to think ahead to any potential conflicts that may arise as co-parents and calmly discuss how they will be handled now rather than when you are faced with them head-on. An effective parenting plan will benefit your children just as much as it will benefit you as co-parents, as it can limit the amount of guesswork and disagreements co-parents could face in the future.

Mistakes to Avoid When Developing a Parenting Plan

Creating a parenting plan is not usually easy. It requires recently split couples to come together and put differences aside to determine what is best for their children. A big mistake made when creating a parenting plan is to put your wants above the needs and best interests of your children. While many parents would love sole custody of their children, this is not usually in the child’s best interest from the court’s point of view. Other mistakes co-parents make when developing a plan include:

  • Developing a plan that lacks details
  • Failing to add details about who will make decisions regarding the child’s medical needs and who will pay for those needs
  • Not addressing what would happen if one parent decides to relocate
  • Failing to specify guidelines about traveling with children
  • Leaving out provisions about how disagreements between parents will be handled

The more details you can provide the judge in your parenting plan, the better. An experienced North Carolina attorney who specializes in family law can help co-parents create a plan to avoid making these or other mistakes.

The Best Interests of the Child

Courts are always concerned with what is in the best interest of the children involved in divorce and custody cases. This includes a variety of factors, each of which can be considered by the judge when determining what parenting and custody arrangement is best. Co-parents in North Carolina who create a parenting plan to present to the court should keep these factors in mind when attempting to create a plan that the judge will approve of:

  • The child’s physical safety
  • The child’s emotional and mental health
  • The child’s social development (established friendships, relationships with extended family, etc.)
  • The child’s mental and physical abilities
  • Relationship between each parent with the child
  • Each parent’s ability to provide stability in the child’s life and home
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • Parental history of physical abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse
  • The wishes of the child, if they are mature enough to make such decisions

Unless concerning factors are present with either parent, such as a history of neglect or abuse, North Carolina law believes it is in the best interest of the child to maintain a consistent relationship with both parents. Some type of shared custody is usually preferred. Sole custody can be granted if it is proven to be in the child’s best interest.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

If you’re getting a divorce, you and your ex may not be on the best terms. Creating a parenting plan requires co-parents to discuss a variety of matters that they are both likely passionate about. This can lead to disagreements and may be difficult to navigate without assistance. An experienced North Carolina family law attorney can help co-parents work together to create a parenting plan document that serves both their interests and, ultimately, the best interests of their children.

While this can be a difficult process, an attorney can act as a mediator so you can each have some say in how you co-parent rather than leaving it all up to the court to decide.

Additionally, an attorney will guide you through the process of developing a parenting plan to make sure all crucial elements are included, as well as other details judges appreciate seeing. Our attorneys are experienced in North Carolina family law and understand what the court looks for and considers to be in the best interest of children.

Parenting Plan FAQs

Q: What Goes Into Good Parenting Plans?

A: Effective parenting plans are detailed and specific. At a minimum, they will include information about child custody and visitation schedules and plans for medical decision-making. However, a parenting plan is not just for the court. It is a tool co-parents can use to provide structure to their co-parenting relationship, so the more detailed it is, the more it will benefit you and your children.

Q: How Long Will I Need to Pay Child Support?

A: In North Carolina, child support is paid until the child turns 18 years old. If the child is still in high school when they turn 18, it could be paid until age 20, but it would stop once they graduate high school. If you are paying child support for multiple children, you will still need to pay for the other children, but payments will stop as each child graduates or turns 20, whichever occurs first. If you or your ex have a significant change in financial circumstances before your shared children turn 18, you may be able to request a modification to the child support order.

Q: Can I Create a Parenting Plan Without the Other Parent?

A: Establishing a parenting plan works best when co-parents work together, but this level of cooperation is not always a reality. You can create a parenting plan on your own and submit it to the court for approval. Keep in mind what the court considers when determining what is in the best interest of the child, so if your parenting plan is very one-sided without good reason, the judge will likely make several adjustments.

Q: How Is Custody Determined?

A: In North Carolina, custody is determined by a judge who considers what is in the best interest of the children involved. This generally consists of joint custody, which allows the child to maintain a positive and consistent relationship with both parents. See the section titled “Best Interest of the Child” above to learn about other factors the court takes into consideration when determining what is in the child’s best interest.

Q: How Do I Start a Parenting Plan?

A: A good first step in developing a parenting plan is to discuss the idea of creating one with your child’s other parent. Creating a plan together usually leads to the best outcome for all parties involved, but it can be a difficult process when you are not on the best terms during a divorce. Getting the help of an experienced family law attorney is a great next step, as they can act as a mediator and ensure your plan is detailed before it is given to the court for review.

Get Assistance Creating a Parenting Plan in North Carolina

Each divorce case is unique, and this is especially true when children are involved. At The Law Office of Aimee E. Cain, we specialize in family law and have extensive experience helping co-parents develop parenting plans while going through a divorce. As certified mediators, we understand this is a sensitive topic and a stressful time in your life. We aim to help you navigate this process with as little additional stress as possible.

In addition to helping you develop a parenting plan, we can also support you in all of your divorce and family law-related issues. We can work with you and your ex through a mediation process to come to other terms throughout your divorce, or we can represent you in court proceedings as needed. Contact The Law Office of Aimee E. Cain today to have a lawyer assess your case and help you determine the next steps to take to safeguard your and your children’s futures.

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