Georgia Parenting Plan
Georgia Parenting Plan Requirements need to be understood by divorcing parents with children. Learn what this is, what it covers, and its role in post-divorce parental rights and responsibilities.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan in Georgia, sometimes called a Custody Agreement, defines how the parents will provide and care for their children. If you have minor children your divorce will not be granted until the Parenting Plan has been finalized.
Your divorce lawyer can provide you with Georgia Parenting Plan Examples and help you to customize it to fit your needs. Typically you can expect to have some differences of opinion with your spouse. Your respective lawyers will facilitate the development of a mutually agreeable Plan. If you and your spouse cannot agree to all aspects, the presidiing judge will intervene and make the final decisions. It is almost always a good idea to not let the court make decisions for you.
What to Include in a Parenting Plan
Parent communications are the foundation for having a successful plan. Common things to consider are:
- Means of Communication such as phone calls, text messages, emails, written correspondence. This may include a requirement to provide the child with a phone.
- Mandatory Information to be shared: health status, school grades, special events, personal achievements, extracurricular activities, significant problems, etc.
- Communication Standards such as no messages after bedtime, timely notice of upcoming events, prompt relay of verbal messages or mail, etc.
- Prompt Notification of changes to critical information; phone numbers, home or work address, child's insurance coverage, special needs, etc.
Physical Custody identifies the custodial and non-custodial parent, and living arrangements for the minor child. Physical custody can be set as Sole Physical Custody or Joint Physical Custody.
Legal Custody defines the rights of parents regarding decision making for significant parts of the minor child's life. Physical custody can be set as Sole Legal Custody or Joint Legal Custody.
Visitation Schedules and Exchanges
Visitation schedules should be established for regular time (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.), as well as holidays, school breaks, birthdays, and vacation time. Holiday schedules often alternate visitation times between parents, i.e., the custodial parent gets Thanksgiving visitation custody in even-numbered years.
Travel time for custody exchange can sometimes be an issue which needs to be addressed. The common solution is to agree on one or two locations for meeting to drop-off and pick-up children.
Healthcare and Insurance
Healthcare and insurance coverage are important parts of the Parenting Plan. Healthcare decisions may include selecting primary care physician, medical specialists, therapists, couselors and medications. Insurance matters include types of coverage (medical, vision, dental, etc.) and who will pay insurance premiums. You should also specify financial responsibility for items not coverd by insurance. It is a good idea to specify annual physicals, dental and vision checkups.
Education and Extracurricular Activities
Education and extracurricular activities obviously are an important part of a child's life. These decisons typically cover class schedules, post-secondary education options, sports, music and more. The cost of private school, college and trade schools should be included in this section.
Parenting guidelines are general rules that apply to both parents with regards to raising their children. These guidelines cover personal conduct of parents, parenting styles and matters of lifestyle.
Common points are forbidding co-habitation or overnight visits with paramours, restricting alcohol consumption, disciplining children, food and dietary concerns, curfews, bedtimes, and media usage (i.e., television, phones, computers, etc.)
Your plan can cover child care selections, who will pay for child care services, and child care options for after school or school break periods.
Special needs considerations may include medical specialists, therapists, handicapped equipment or accessibility needs including how costs will be paid.
Financial considerations may include providing for children in wills, trusts or investments. It may also include requiring the establishment of college fund accounts or savings accounts.
Relocation, across town or out-of-state, is not uncommon. This change can complicate the ability for both parties to adhere to the established Parenting Plan. If both parents have established an amicable working relationship it may be possible to come to a simple verbal agreement on how to handle the situation. If the parents cannot agree on how to proceed the solution is to initiate a divorce decree modification process. If you file for a modification you should include any other areas which need to be addressed.
Travel, specifically destinations and safety, are often a concern. Communications for travel potentially include providing a travel itinerary, confirmation of safe arrival, periodic checkins, and obtaining a passport for a child under 16 years of age.
Foreign travel is the most common concern for divorced parents. This is especially true when a foreign-born parent travels with the child outside of the United States, and there is a fear that they will not return the child to the United States.
Parenting Plan Modifications
What if parents cannot agree on certain parenting decisions? What if life circumstances change? The need to make changes is very common. There are solutions for managing changes.
For simple matters parents may be able to come to a verbal agreement, and work together in the best interests of the child. If parents cannot come to an agreement the only real solution is a Parenting Plan modification.
For complicated points of contention, serious differences of opinion, and failure to comply you should consider divorce settlement modification and/or a Contempt of Court complaint for enforcement of court orders.
Get the Help You Need
Your Parenting Plan is one of the most important parts of your divorce. Schedule an appointment with Ian Falcone who is a skilled child custody lawyer.
Need help or information? Call 770-426-9359
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