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Preparing a Parenting Plan for Custody Court
You and your spouse have just separated or divorced. Suddenly you find that you must appear in custody court in several weeks to try and persuade the judge to give you a fair parenting plan over your children. How do you prepare? What can you do to make sure that the court will accept your plan so you can continue to see your children?
This can be a challenging and confusing time for any parent. To help you, I've gathered together some suggestions to help you make a great parenting plan to get ready for court. If you focus on making the best possible plan, the judge will be more likely to accept your ideas. Now, let's get going.
Making a Winning Parenting Plan
Let's begin with the basics of what a good parenting plan contains. Your plan should have a complete custody and visitation schedule, information about legal custody, any provisions required by your state, and any provisions you wish to add. This is the parenting plan template that you can follow to make sure your plan is a success. Here are some ideas for each of these sections to make a plan that the judge will approve.
The Custody and Visitation Schedule
Unless you have a really great custody and visitation schedule in your plan, the judge will never accept it. The key is to make a schedule that revolves around the child and what the child needs. The court will be impressed when you can show them how the schedule benefits the child, and how you custom made the schedule to fit the child.
Judges are usually not very impressed if a schedule leaves out the other parent. Generally, it is in the best interest of the child to have contact with both parents. And, many states require that the custody schedule give frequent and significant visitation time to both the mother and father.
Required and Personal Provisions
Many states require that parenting plans have certain provisions. The most common provisions that states mandate are about how the parents will resolve future disputes, how the parents will communicate, how changes can be made to the plan, how the parents will share legal custody, etc. Check your state laws very carefully to make sure that you have all of the required provisions.
You can also add personal provisions that you think enhance the plan and make it run smoother. The court will appreciate it if you have provisions that apply to your situation. You should be prepared to explain the provisions and why you included them in the plan. The provisions should always be in the best interest of the child.
Getting Ready for Custody Court
Once you have your plan all ready to present to court, you can work on how you will show the plan. First, you need to make sure that you have documents for your plan that are easy to read. Make multiple copies of the plan so you can give one to the judge, the other parent, any attorneys present, etc. Your parenting plan should be very organized and look professional. You need to have a written explanation of your custody and visitation schedule along with a calendar. It can also be helpful to figure out the visitation timeshare that each parent has with the children. Your other documents should include all of the provisions in the agreement and anything else you want to show the court.
Practice explaining your plan using the documents. You need to have clear, concise reasons why and how your plan benefits the children. You should also speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can hear.
On the day of court, dress nicely and gather together your documents. Put your documents someplace safe--like a folder or briefcase--so they don't get wrinkled or ruined. Stay calm and try not to get too nervous. Remember that you are prepared with a great parenting plan. Explain it to the judge and the court will most likely accept it.