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The Importance of Thinking Through Parenting Plans

Important Issues in Parenting Plans

All cases involving permanent child custody in Georgia require a parenting plan.  The parents may submit a joint parenting plan to the court or each parent may submit their own proposed parenting plan.  Parenting plans must include the following information: where and when the children will be in each parent’s physical care each day of the year; how holidays, school breaks, vacations, and other special occasions will be spent; how visitation exchanges will occur, including costs for transportation; and the allocation of decision-making authority.

There is no one-size-fits-all parenting plan that will make sense for every family.

It is imperative to think long and hard about your schedule and the other parent’s schedule when determining what parenting plan will work for your family.  Every family is unique and has different considerations.  A parenting plan for younger children will likely be drastically different from the parenting plan for a high-school-aged child, who may be capable of driving themselves to and from visitation.  Additionally, the distance between the parents’ homes needs to be considered, along with the extracurricular activities in which the children participate.

Parents know their family situation and their children better than any Judge.  For this reason, it is generally better if the parents can work together to submit a joint parenting plan to the court.  The judge will typically accept a joint parenting plan unless the judge finds that the parenting plan is contrary to the children’s best interests.  Once accepted by the court, the parenting plan will become a part of the court’s final order.

However, if the parties are unable to agree on the parenting plan, the Judge will make the final decision, and the parties will have to follow whatever the court orders, even if the plan is impractical for your family.  As such, we recommend trying to jointly develop a parenting plan that will work for your entire family.  If you can achieve a joint parenting plan agreement, your life will likely be smoother once your case is over.