In a divorce or separation, a “child-up” parenting plan refers to an approach to child-rearing that focuses on the emotional and psychological health of the child. This type of parenting plan is like others in that it involves both parents dividing up their duties and privileges. Still, it differs in that usually, a qualified social worker or a family law lawyer will intervene and create the plan.

The child’s best interest standard holds true in child-up parenting plans, but they take this further by dynamically regarding their best interests over time.

What Are Some Features and Benefits of Child-Up Parenting Plans?

The following are a few of the standout features and benefits of child-up parenting plans:

  • Dynamic Approach: As the child grows, the parenting plan will change to fit the child’s needs throughout their childhood (from infancy to 18 years old).
  • Shared Parental Responsibility: Both parents try to share parental positions and responsibilities. For example, rather than one parent being the disciplinarian, both parents will punish equally.
  • Task-Specific Duties: Instead of general duties, parents will be given specific tasks.
  • Greater Access to Both Parents: The child will have more access to both parents, easing the stress and workload.
  • Time is Specifically Allocated: A parenting plan can lay out how time will be spent, including weekends and holidays. While the plan can lay out a broad schedule, both parents must agree to modify the plan.

Child-up plans are pretty specific and demand a lot of attention to detail, as they can even include the child’s diet and religious attendance. An experienced family law lawyer can aid you in forming a plan that works best for your child and your schedule.

What Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan?

There are several components a legal parenting plan should include. These are:

  • Child custody;
  • A schedule summarizing how much time and when each parent will spend with the child, also referred to as visitation;
  • The obligations and duties of each parent;
  • Pick-up and drop-off transportation;
  • Parental rights, which include which parent will be accountable for making critical decisions regarding the child, such as:
    • Educational decisions;
    • Medical conclusions;
    • Religious practices; and
    • Holiday schedules;
    • Rights regarding child support; and
    • Privileges of other parties, such as grandparents or stepparents.

Child custody can be one of the most confrontational matters in a divorce involving children. Both parties need to try and put their feelings aside and regard what is best for their child.

They will have to determine who has physical custody, meaning where the child will live and which parent will offer day-to-day care. If the parents cannot choose, the court will decide using the child’s best interest standard. It is necessary to remember the court does not know a family like the family does, so the child’s interests may be better served if the parents can decide custody for themselves.

Once the parties decide who has physical custody of the child, they must make a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. Children generally benefit from a stable relationship with both parents.

In many circumstances, and in a standard court-ordered visitation schedule, the non-custodial parent will be given visitation on weekends, extended school vacations, such as summer and spring break, and holidays will be split between the parents. The agreement should also summarize how the child will be transported from one parent to another.

Child support is another problem that may be combative when forming a parental plan. The parenting agreement should delineate which parent pays child support and the amount. Most states have a child support calculation formula that may help specify the proper amount.

In the parenting plan, the parents can make conclusions with one another and include any other specific matters that may be relevant to their child or children, so long as they agree upon the terms. Once the plan is written out, the court will examine the plan using the best interest of the child’s standard and base their decision on the child’s needs.

Who Comes up With a Parenting Plan?

Generally, the child’s parents develop the parenting plan outside of court or during formal court proceedings. If they can agree outside of court, they can offer their parenting plan to the court for approval.

Once the court approves the parenting plan, it is enforceable by law. In cases where the parents cannot come to an agreement and draft their plan, the court will allocate a plan for them.

Are Parenting Plans Enforceable?

Yes, parenting plans are typically enforceable. It is enforceable if the plan is signed, witnessed, and approved by the court. On the other hand, informal parenting plans that are not in writing may not be enforceable. As with any contract, it is always an excellent idea to put the agreement in writing.

Are Child-Up Parenting Plans for Everyone?

Child-up parenting plans are relatively new, so they may not be as widely available as more standard plans. If they are available, they will only work if both parents are inclined and able to cooperate. Child-up parenting plans require a lot of settlement and contact, so any history of hatred or abuse takes this type of plan off the table.

Ultimately, all judgments come down to what is best for the child. If the court doesn’t find a child-up parenting plan suitable for a particular case, a different plan will be issued. Ultimately, it is up to the court to determine if they want to implement the child-up parenting plan.

What Are Some Common Conflicts Involved With Parenting Plans?

Conflicts are common when it comes to parenting plans. In some circumstances, the parents are unable to agree on specific issues. Fortunately, a parenting plan may be modified to accommodate all parties involved and when life circumstances change.

Conflicts that may arise regarding parenting plans include:

  • Visitation schedules;
  • Child support amounts; and
  • Violations of the parenting agreement.

It may be challenging to arrange a visitation schedule that works with both parents’ daily schedules. It may lead to frustration and friction. Nevertheless, it must be done and agreed upon.

Child support amounts can cause conflict when preparing a parental plan. The parent asking for child support must offer evidence to corroborate the amount they are requesting.

It is typical for a parent to break the terms of a parental plan, even if the court ordered it. Disregarding a parental plan may result in harsh penalties, including criminal charges.

What Happens If You Violate a Parenting Plan and Agreement?

There are consequences to disobeying parenting plans and agreements. It becomes a legally binding document once the court approves and orders the parental plan. If a party disobeys a provision of the plan, they may be subject to court fines or other punishments.

If an issue surfaces and a parent cannot follow the plan or the arrangement no longer works for the parties, there are strategies for modifying the court order. The party or parties may petition the court for a change and present evidence of why it is necessary.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Child-Up Parenting Plan?

If you are interested in learning more about a child-up parenting plan, contact an experienced child custody lawyer. Since these parenting plans are specific, it is essential to fill them out accurately. A lawyer can lay out your choices, help you determine your most suitable course of action, prepare a plan that fits your situation, and represent your best interests in any upcoming court proceedings.