A parenting plan is a document that memorializes the legal and physical custody arrangement ordered as part of a custody case. Where both parents are participating and can agree on the details of their parenting plan, they have flexibility to customize the plan to their family’s specific needs, and have that plan approved and ultimately incorporated into the final custody judgment.
However, if parties are in dispute over custody, then separate proposed parenting plans will be filed with the court by each party. In this case, a judge would ultimately have the authority to determine what the final parenting plan should incorporate. If you are involved in child custody proceedings, particularly if they are contested, contact an experienced lawyer at our firm. One of our attorneys can help you understand parenting plans in New Haven.
A parenting plan forms a set of rules to guide divorced parties on how to co-parent. This agreement covers a range of matters, such as:
Essentially, a parenting plan helps parties work together and in the best interests of their child.
If a child custody hearing is contested, the parties will exchange their proposed parenting plans in advance. Then, each party and their legal counsel will present their plan to the judge during the evidentiary portion of the hearing.
If a custody case is not contested, the parties’ mutually drafted parenting plan is filed with the court in advance of the court date. In this case, the judge will canvass the parties on what is in the agreement, ensuring that both parties understand and are voluntarily assenting to its terms. Thereafter the judge will approve the parenting plan, make a finding that it is in the best interest of the child, and incorporate it into the final custody judgment.
In some cases, the parties may have been operating on their own informal parenting arrangement that was never filed with the court. Evidence of their informal parenting plan will be relevant to a custody hearing, as the court favors maintaining consistency for a child in their upbringing.
When parties are represented by local attorneys, they are typically the ones to elicit testimony from the parties rather having a judge perform the questioning. In determining a parenting plan in a child custody case, lawyers are responsible for conduct direct examinations of their client and cross-examinations of the opposing party to ensure all relevant and favorable testimony is entered into the record. This is important in ensuring the judge has the necessary evidence and testimony to make an informed determination on the parenting plan.
Ultimately, a judge is ascertaining the evidence presented to determine what is in the best interest of the child. In the event that the judge needs clarification or feels that certain important issues have not been thoroughly addressed, they may directly question the parties on the stand. If a party has a particular concern about the well-being of their child, the judge may also have them elaborate on their concern.
Because testimony in child custody court proceedings is largely determined by the parties’ individual legal counsel, it is crucial to work with a skilled attorney in the area who can advocate for the desired parenting plan.
A parenting plan is a critical aspect of any child custody case, as it determines each party’s interactions with their child, and how decisions impacting their children’s lives are made. If you are in the process of determining custody and visitation terms, work with an experienced lawyer who can advise you on the legal proceedings and advocate for your rights. Call our firm today to learn more about parenting plans in New Haven.