Child Custody: The Value of a Parenting Plan
- posted: Feb. 27, 2020
During your marriage, you and your spouse most likely fell into a pattern of dividing parenting duties naturally according to your schedules and those of your children. Now that you’re going through a divorce, you know that those natural patterns won’t be possible any longer. And you may be worried that you’ll end up losing touch with your children due to the changed circumstances of your family. In many situations, particularly if you and your ex are reasonably flexible and are capable of compromise, negotiating parenting arrangements is a healthy way to resolve child custody conflicts.
One way to think of a parenting plan is as a formalized, written outline describing the responsibilities each parent will take on after divorce. It is a document that the spouses and their attorneys reach by agreement and then file for approval with the South Dakota family court. Assuming the judge approves it (which is often the case), the agreement becomes legally enforceable and both parties must abide by it.
In South Dakota, a parenting plan spells out who will spend time with the children and when, but it also includes many other features that define your new co-parenting arrangement. A parenting plan can be used to answer many important questions:
- Who makes major decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, religion and healthcare decisions?
- Which parent is responsible for transporting the child to and from each home?
- Where will custody exchanges occur?
- Will both parents attend school events? What about parent-teacher conferences?
- How will vacations and holidays be handled?
- Will a parent have the right to veto the other parent’s choice of babysitter?
- How will the parents communicate with children during noncustodial time?
- Which relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on) should have interaction with the child?
- How will disputes or scheduling conflicts be resolved?
By providing the opportunity to answer important questions like these, parenting plans become much more than a simple explanation of “how many nights the child will spend at mom’s house.” These arrangements become a vital part of the relationship between parents and children and the relationship between the now-unmarried parents themselves. A great deal of careful thought should be put into parenting plans.
The Anker Law Group’s family law attorneys are very experienced in helping parents create practical, helpful parenting plans that benefit children and parents alike. With extensive knowledge of South Dakota divorce and child custody laws, we are ready to help you resolve even the most challenging parenting situations. To schedule a free consultation at our Rapid City office, please call 605-519-5967 or contact us online.