How are Parenting Plans Enforced?
For parenting plans to be enforced, it must first be filed with the court and be specific enough for law enforcement to be certain that what is to be enforced is outlined in the document. The enforcement mechanism is law enforcement if you need immediate enforcement (such as one parent won't allow visitation that is clearly outlined) and then filing an action for contempt with the court (when denied visitation is a pattern and a problem). No one will enforce your parenting plan if you do not take the steps to ask for help. However, the parenting plan must be signed as an order of the court because any other document is not enforceable.
Many see the need for court involvement to be only in extreme cases, however this is simply not true. A good parenting plan gives both parents rights and outlines expectations. A worst-case scenario when parents have a casual parenting plan is that one parent can decide, without notice, to take the child out-of-state and block the other parent from seeing the child. This is parental kidnapping in many forms, but is so much more difficult to deal with when there is not an enforceable parenting agreement in place.
What should you consider when creating a Parenting Plan?
Some basic considerations for creating a parenting plan are:
Account for the holidays, birthdays, special days
Account for any dependencies or drug problems by one or both parent
Decide methods, locations, and times for exchange
Right of first refusal
Grandparents, step siblings, and new siblings
Relocation, travel, and vacations
Updating employment and contact information with the other parent
Number of nights to be spent with each parent
Agreements on child support credits and payments
Introduction of significant others and step-siblings
Maintenance of a joint calendar
Schools and daycares
Where and how to deal with conflicts
Any other matter that seems to be a constant source of friction.
The most important aspect of your parenting plan is its workability for you, your co-parent, and your child. Therefore, the overall goal of a parenting plan is to set expectations so the children are able to enjoy time with their parents. This is done by setting expectations, guidelines, and methods of settling conflicts before they happen. Children should always be kept out of the dramatics and stress that frequently arise from co-parenting. Keep the children out of the drama and contact our law firm if you believe you may want help creating and filing your parenting plan with the court.